Formula 1 mid-season review: Sauber
13 August 2014 – As the Formula 1 fraternity enjoys the summer break, GPUpdate.net takes the opportunity to analyse team and driver performances over the first 11 rounds of the 2014 season. For the penultimate part of the series, we look at Sauber's campaign so far, along with the performances of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutiérrez.
Sauber has endured an abysmal season thus far. Having battled to survive through 2013, the announcement of a partnership with a group of Russian companies appeared to point towards a brighter future. But as talks continued over exacting details into 2014, the Crimean crisis broke out, with the subsequent Western sanctions on Russian individuals and companies putting the deal in jeopardy. "The sanctions that have been imposed are really biting some of them, so they're very careful. We simply have to wait. There's nothing we can do about it," said Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn at the Spanish Grand Prix in May. And further doubt has been cast after the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine last month. The long-lasting concern has undoubtedly spread onto the circuit in the form of a troublesome C33 chassis. A lack of downforce and an inconsistent feeling with Ferrari's new turbocharged power unit has seen Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutiérrez struggle to remain a part of the midfield action, with Sauber entering the summer break as one of only two teams – alongside Caterham – yet to score a point and behind Marussia in the standings courtesy of Jules Bianchi's efforts in Monaco. Sauber's 2013 season was effectively saved when Pirelli introduced modified tyre compounds at the midway point, allowing Nico Hülkenberg to fight for big rewards and Gutiérrez to record a maiden top 10 finish. But that will not be happening this year. The team simply has to hope that a wild race presents the opportunity to jump to ninth position.
Adrian Sutil: 6/10
After a solid comeback term with long-time employers Force India, Sutil made the switch to Sauber in search of major points, his first visit to the Formula 1 podium and ultimately race victories. But his hopes of doing so in 2014 were dashed as soon as pre-season testing, when it became clear that the team had a below-par contender on its hands. Of the six drivers without a point so far this season, Sutil has been the closest to scoring, finishing 11th in Australia and Hungary. But in between those rounds, he has endured countless technical problems, made sloppy errors and faced unpleasant questions over his Grand Prix future. There was even suggestion that he would be out of a seat from Germany onwards, with Sauber said to have been lining up a driver with better funding – more specifically reserve Giedo van der Garde. Both parties quickly pushed the speculation to one side, but such a curveball was most unwelcome during an already challenging season. With the car underneath him masking potential, all Sutil can do over the second half of the season is put himself in the best possible position to steal potential points and keep his fingers crossed that the overall package he offers is enough to warrant a contract extension. But he will be looking over his shoulders, with the aforementioned van der Garde, Sergey Sirotkin and Simona de Silvestro all vying for seats.
Esteban Gutiérrez: 6/10
Like team-mate Sutil, Gutierrez has been restricted by a poor machine. But after a challenging rookie year, which saw him pick up just six points compared to Hülkenberg's 51, the paddock needed convincing that he was worthy of a place on the grid. When he had the opportunity to turn some heads at the Monaco Grand Prix, having held a points-scoring position into the final 20 laps, he clumsily spun exiting Rascasse. And the "most painful error" of his career grew worse when Bianchi secured Marussia's maiden points. While the majority of his retirements have been brought on by technical problems – the most costly of those striking in Hungary when he had another chance to get on the scoreboard – he did himself no favours by running into Pastor Maldonado at Silverstone, their second clash of the season. With little sign of an upturn in car performance and thus no platform to demonstrate raw pace, Gutierrez's lifeline could be the returning Mexican Grand Prix, with backers Telmex keen to keep its home drivers on the grid.
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