Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur is expecting his team to make a clear step forward with its chassis next season even before it receives a boost from Ferrari.
Having faced financial constraints for a number of years, Sauber opted to use a year-old Ferrari power unit this season and focus on trying to optimize its chassis for the new aerodynamic regulations. Although the team was under new ownership from the middle of last year, Vasseur still believes that wasn’t enough time to really impact on the new car and sees major gains to be had with the 2018 chassis.
Asked how much performance he expects to gain from running the latest specification of Ferrari power unit next year, Vasseur replied: “It’s a couple of tenths – I won’t say more – and on the chassis we will have to do a much bigger step.
“I think we started the project very late last year due to the financial situation and we are really focused on the 2018 car for a long part of this season and I think we will do a much bigger step on the chassis than on the engine.”
While the power unit plan is known for next year, Sauber has yet to confirm its driver line-up for 2018, having been running Charles Leclerc (above) in a number of FP1 sessions at recent races. Newly crowned Formula 2 champion Leclerc is expected to be one of the drivers, likely partnering Marcus Ericsson, and Vasseur is confident confirmation of the pairing will be made public soon.
“We will do the announcement, I hope, in Abu Dhabi. For sure we’ll do it before Melbourne next year and that I won’t postpone it each week. But I think Charles is doing a good job; the situation in FP1 is not an easy one because the first target is to avoid crashing and by the way that he’s consistent and he always shows a strong pace and he’s doing a good job.”
Leclerc will not take part in FP1 in Abu Dhabi, having completed four appearances for Sauber so far this year. Instead he will focus solely on the final round of F2 races at the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend.