In pre-season testing, the outlook was exceptionally good for Sauber. While their new livery left much to be desired, their times were just behind the top 4, and their tyre wear data showed that they were managing their tyres extremely well. This all pointed towards Sauber being a surprise package for 2010, or so we though. Regardless of progress since, Sauber are the lowest out of the points-scoring teams, and have suffered dire reliabilty so far.
Progress or not, Sauber's reliability has held them back all season
After 9 races, the team hold only 7 points, all of which have been earned by the “lunatic” Kobayashi. Worse than this, the team have a horrific level of DNFs, with 11 so far, and 1 DNS (Did Not Start), when Pedro de la Rosa’s car couldn’t even make it to the grid in Malaysia. In fact, the team didn’t get a point until Round 7 in Turkey, when Kobayashi earned a solitary point. He has had one top 10 finish since then, when he drove magnificently after a clever strategy in Valencia to finish 7th, after running 2nd for most of the race.
However, Kamui can only produce the goods when he is given the opportunity, and in the C29, that is exceedingly rare. The finger of blame should be pointing squarely at the Ferrari engines, which have failed countlessly, are poor in terms of fuel consumption, and, at the end of the day, lack in power.
Pedro de la Rosa shouldn’t be excluded either, as he has performed very consistently when the car allows, finishing 11th once and 12th 2 times, with the rest being retirements. In fact, between the two of these drivers, their worst finishing position each has been 12th, which isn’t too shabby considering their lack of pace. Also, Kobayashi has only finished a race outisde of the points once.
But, at the end of the day, reliability is the key to unlocking Sauber’s potential. The only was this can be achieved is by switching engine suppliers at the end of the year, most likely Renault. This would allow the car to run less fuel (Renault engine has the best fuel consumption on the grid), which would allow them to manage their tyres even better. Also, by finishing more races, consistent points finishes could well be a target for Sauber by next season.