Pic from Marca: Shows 2016/2017 Sauber cars juxtaposed
The launch of the new Sauber C36 finally puts real life flesh on the bones -or if you prefer innate carbon fibre on the titanium struts – of the plentiful pontificating we have heard as to how the new regulations will be interpreted in the form of an F1 car.
Given the recent demise of Manor – the last of the ‘new teams’ to die – the Swiss team is proudly shouting to the world via their livery that they have survived in F1 for 25 years. In the modern world of F1 team budgets – many of which are larger than some sovereign nation’s national debt – the survival of Sauber is no mean feat indeed.
However, the bold ’25 years in Formula One’ does rather accentuate the lack of sponsors Sauber has at present – and F1 car launches were once an opportunity to provide sponsors with a big publicity moment in time.
Of course it is fascinating to pour over the C36 design details; the flatter wing profiles, the uber ugly shark fin engine covers and not forgetting the new bladed rollover hoop and split airbox – AND BIG WHEELS.
And all this is indeed jolly interesting, but the sad fact of the matter is that Sauber is merely existing in a world where the gulf in financing between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ represents something approaching Donald Trump’s annual hair product bills.
Historically, independent teams like Tyrell, Lotus and Brabham each competed in F1 for 25 years and more, but this was predominantly in an era where the entire team’s headcount was fewer than the current number of junior aerodynamicists daily sat at the feet of Red Bull Racing’s guru, Adrian Newey.
The paucity of resources for Sauber will be plain for all to see when their shiny new racing prototype machine takes to the circuit along with the rest of the F1 class of 2017 – but potters round with a power unit some 12 months out of date.
Then again if Ferrari have in fact been pulling out all the stops in the engine division, as we learned yesterday, an actual bonfire of the red vanities could be a regular sight around the race tracks of the world casting the Sauber in the role of the tortoise to Maranello’s hare.
Despite the much lauded ‘big 2017 rule change’ and the new improved beasty racing machines driven by ‘real men ‘ (yes Max that includes you) – the old F1 problems remain. Be not deceived – the new regulations were merely an effort by Ferrari and Red Bull to re=write the design rule book and hopefully shuffle the deck and along with it Mercedes out from top spot.
There was little intention to improve the racing spectacle.
Christian Horner is clearly aware that over the decades when previous F1 big aerodynamic changes were implemented, it was Sage Newey who pulled the rabbits from the hat. And so the spice boy of Milton Keynes has been hoping this will again be the case in 2017.
Ferrari are just hoping.
In F1 days of yore there have been independent challengers who may have benefited spectacularly from new regulatory eras – namely Williams and McLaren. Though even having broken with their F1 vehicle naming tradition – and everything else to do with Ron Dennis – McLaren’s all new MCL32 has a steep hill/mountain/cliff (select option) of improvement to climb.
Gone, along with Ron, is the much hyped ‘size zero’ chassis concept due to the complete redesign by Honda of their F1 power unit Alonso felt was suited better to a GP3 car. McLaren technical director, Tim Goss, revealed recently: “For 2017, the Honda engine architecture and layout have been altered to serve both for performance and packaging needs.
“The new power unit takes much of the learning from the past two seasons, but has been specifically redesigned for this season.”
That said Tim, McLaren fans will probably be happier when the team and Honda are learning from what works successfully rather attempting to progress from utter failure; mistake after mistake – where the probable outcome of another change is simply – more but different mistakes.
Honda are of course free this year to completely redesign their F1 power unit from scratch – and throw the bath water out with the bath water. Yet the downside of the removal of all PU design restrictions via the token system is that everything is once again up for grabs. Competing voices in the battle of ideas for how to progress merely opens up the number of opportunities for change and probably mean that focus will be lost.
So, it would be hardly surprising to see McLaren still trailing along behind the Mercedes powered teams, Red Bull – though possibly ahead of the broken down Ferraris.
But ‘be of good cheer’ – those of you who are suffering with a pronged bout of the Woking woes, Tim Goss has also revealed: “These 2017 cars are lower and squatter; they just look meaner. The lower rear wing, big fat tyres and big diffuser look cool – they look mean”.
The question is will the racing be any good?
One answer is, the protagonists for change, never really cared.
End of Part two