Anyway, Sauber


The new team name has sparked the creativity of web creatives. The historic headquarters of the Swiss racing team, present in Formula 1 for many years, remains unchanged despite several name changes due to sponsorship reasons.

In the Formula 1 Grand Circus, economic funds are everything—vital for planning, development, factory upgrades, hiring technicians working behind the scenes, and securing the availability of drivers. Many drivers are chosen not just for their talent but also for the weight of the sponsorship deals they bring.

Commercial agreements don’t merely entail branding on the livery or overalls but also involve renaming chassis or even the power units. This is to emphasize a particular name on the TV graphics that scroll during a race weekend.

The Sauber team, based in Hinwil, Switzerland, knows this better than anyone else. It has frequently changed its name for these reasons but has remained faithful to its roots in a town with just eleven thousand inhabitants. Its history saw a transition from family leadership under its founder, Peter Sauber, to a Swiss investment company that wisely retained the initials of the cars, always beginning with ‘C’ followed by the annual progressive number of the car.

They speak of a long tradition, albeit without ever winning a World Championship. Yet, they’ve etched themselves into the memories of fans who recognize in this team the continuation of a Formula 1 now lost in time.

In 1993, after extensive participation in prototypes and lower categories, came the big leap with the backing of Mercedes appearing on the sides of the first C12. That season saw numerous retirements but also podium-worthy results, offering hope.

1994 is primarily remembered for the incident on the streets of Monte Carlo involving Karl Wendlinger—a collision that sparked fears akin to the tragic events of the Imola weekend. Wendlinger emerged from a month-long coma and upon his return, was never quite the same, eventually returning to touring car races years later.

Then began the collaboration with Ferrari as engine suppliers. There was also the game of name changes since, for many years, the engines were rebranded with the name of a famous Malaysian oil company that funded car updates and more.

Speaking of Ferrari, the relationship was close enough to witness drivers moving to Sauber after their experiences in red, such as Larini and Alesi.

Generally, the results in the early years were not outstanding. However, considering that the scoring system only rewarded the top six finishers, and retirements due to reliability issues were commonplace at the time, the accumulated points in the constructors’ standings kept them away from the quicksand of the very bottom positions.

Unfortunately, everything has a cost. Thus, in 2006, financial losses led Peter Sauber to sell the team to a significant brand like BMW, which had already become a shareholder and engine supplier for Williams some time before.

The Sauber name wasn’t entirely erased from the team’s designation. The foundation remained the same, and in the four years of activity, the results were noteworthy, unprecedented until then. However, the outcomes in 2009 didn’t match the expected leap towards the upper echelons of the constructors’ hierarchy. So, after some ups and downs and with the expansion of the grid to new teams that were meanwhile admitted, Sauber saw the return of its founder, Peter.

Initially registered as a reserve team, it found its place on the track by fielding a car derived from the projects initiated by BMW and later powered by Ferrari. The novelty also lay in the organizational chart since Peter Sauber appointed Monisha Kaltenborn as CEO, marking the absolute first time a woman was entrusted with such a role in Formula 1.

In those years, the results were very promising, especially when compared to the competition, until 2015 when, for the first time in history, the team concluded with zero points, narrowly edging out Caterham for the last spot solely based on better placements during the Grand Prix races.

The 2016 season was even more challenging as constant financial difficulties seriously questioned future participation. The C35 scored points only in the penultimate race in Brazil, with Nasr finishing ninth in that rain-soaked Grand Prix, crucial for overtaking Manor by just a single point. This secured significant financial gains, possibly contributing to Manor’s subsequent withdrawal despite circulating photos of the model of the next car.

However, 2016 was crucial for another reason. A Swiss investment company stepped in to salvage the challenging situation. Consequently, after 24 years, founder Peter Sauber bid farewell to the Circus.

We mentioned the partnership with Ferrari, which at one point became very close, prompting then-president Sergio Marchionne to leverage ties with the Alfa Romeo brand to revalue and enhance the brand through a return to Formula 1, albeit as a cloak to dress the Sauber team.

It was a fruitful experience since during those years, one of the two seats had a certain influence on Ferrari’s plans, leading to the debut of Leclerc, giving a chance to Giovinazzi, and contributing to the team’s growth with Raikkonen’s experience.

All this leads up to the present day. The end of the relationship with Alfa Romeo indirectly marks the end of the association with Ferrari. However, Ferrari will continue to supply its power units for the next two years, with a market also directed towards China, given the signing in 2022 of a driver who brought significant brand visibility and, especially, interest in anticipation of the return to the Shanghai circuit next season.

The team is registered in 2024 as Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber in an evolution already looking ahead. There has been a long march underway since some time ago, culminating in Audi’s entry starting from 2026.

Until 2025, it will still be Sauber.

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Gianluca Puzzo

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Gianluca Puzzo

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