It has been announced today that the Sauber team does not expect to run the updated version of Ferrari’s Formula 1 engine until August’s Belgian Grand Prix, when its introduction would coincide with a major upgrade on their car.
Ferrari used three of its engine token allocation to introduce their first big update of the season at the last race in Canada, but Sauber did not run the new package.
With drivers restricted to four engines per season, Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said in an interview with Autosport today that it made sense to wait until Spa, a track where the update will have the most effect and by which time further developments will have been added. Kaltenborn stated the following:-
‘We have been told Ferrari is still doing development, so from that perspective, we expect a bigger upgrade in the engine after the summer break. If it happens like this, it will come at a time when we hope to introduce a big update package for our car.
‘Spa is a race where the engine update will really matter. The next ones coming we are alright. But Spa and Monza are the ones where you can really feel the upgrade.’
It is clear to Kaltenborn that they feel delaying the upgrade for the Sauber team until Belgium will help them alongside the fact that they believe that Ferrari will also be updating their engine at the same time. And as Kaltenborn rightly points out, engine performance is crucial to getting a good result in Spa and Monza so this news should be help them looking forward to this.
Further on in her interview with Autosport today, Kaltenborn denied the decision had anything to do with finances, adding that Ferrari had been keen for the team to run the update sooner. Kaltenborn added the following:-
‘It did not have anything to do with finances.The driving force is definitely coming from our engine supplier. But you have to look at your own strategy and see what you are most comfortable with.
‘We are on our second engine [of four] and they [Ferrari] are getting in the third engine so obviously they have a different strategy. If you need to return to an old engine it’s a different approach to things.’
With Kaltenborn stating its not finances that has made them decide to wait until Belgium and it is Ferrari is interesting. As we know Ferrari Academy driver Raffaele Marciello is their official test driver and is rising through the ranks of the junior formulae. By accepting Marciello into the team this season, maybe Ferrari have a say in what happens the other side of the team; even though they have a say as an engine supplier.
With regards to what Kaltenborn is saying about the engines, maybe they have to follow a path set out by Ferrari and have to abide by certain rules. And that would be expected. But for her to say we have to be comfortable with it, for me shows that the team need to find a right balance with everything and they believe after consideration, this is the best possible route for them.
But overall, even though Sauber and Kaltenborn would want the upgrade quicker in order to improve their performance on the track; there are a range of factors to consider and after considering these believe waiting until Belgium is better for them. Whether they have made the right choice we will see, but it is imperative that Sauber need this if they want to score points and improve as a team for the second half of the season.