#21 – Esteban Gutierrez – Mexico – 11 Starts, 0 Points, Best Finish: 12th (Australia), Championship Position: 20th
#99 – Adrian Sutil – Germany – 11 Starts, 0 Points, Best Finish: 11th (Australia, Hungary), Championship Position: 17th
The fact that Sauber currently sit tenth in the constructors’ championship and remain pointless at the opening eleven rounds of the year pretty much sums up the mediocre season the Swiss team are having.
The signs of struggle began even before the season started with a troubled pre-season, and while the result in the opening round of the season seemed to be a positive one with Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez eleventh and twelfth respectively, the performance of the car has not been strong enough all season.
You would be forgiven to think that Sauber have disappeared this season, as in some of the races you would only see them when they were either being lapped or when they were retiring. Both drivers have failed to see the chequered flag five times out of the eleven races.
The Ferrari power unit powering the Sauber has long been described as overweight, and weight has been a major issue to the team this year, so much so that Sutil even started a race without a water bottle on board to lighten the load. Aerodynamically, the Sauber isn’t perfect either, and they have often found themselves struggling to get out of the first part of qualifying.
To be honest, the drivers have not helped themselves. Three of Sutil’s retirements have been through accidents or spins, the most recent in Germany when he could have scored points if he had not thrown it all away by spinning out of the final corner.
Likewise, Gutierrez has also ended his race three times in an accident, and although the skirmish that cost him a finish in Bahrain was completely out of his control when the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado launched him into a roll at the first corner, his Monaco and Great Britain races were ended by silly accidents. It was most painful in Monaco as we was on course for at least eighth position and should have taken the teams’ first points of the year.
Last year after a relatively slow start, the team began to pick up the results in the second half of the year, but do they have what it takes to do it once again? Last year they had the talent of Nico Hulkenberg in their car, who put it where it should not have been on more than the odd occasion, but is Sutil able to do the same this year? We all know that on his day the German is quick, but his day seems to be coming less and less often.
As for Gutierrez, he was also stronger towards the back end of 2013, and his career is possibly hanging in the balance right now. He has only scored points once in his career and is more than halfway through his second season. Are there signs of progress with the young Mexican? To be fair to him, he’s showing well against his team-mate, but with the Mexican Grand Prix coming in 2015, it could be fair to say that Gutierrez might not be on the grid for that race if it wasn’t for his Mexican backing, if you were to look at his recent performances.
The team have been around long enough to work through the issues they are having. The signs are positive, Sutil matched his best result of the season last time out in Hungary, and there is no reason why they cannot take some points in the remaining races to reclaim ninth or higher in the championship standings. They should be better than this, their dip in form this season has been alarming. Its time for the team and the drivers to step up and make their mark.