‘Zhou will prove his worth and Sauber must sign Sainz’

Total-Motorsport.com take a closer look at what to expect from Sauber ahead of the 2024 Formula 1 season

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The Sauber name is well and truly back in Formula 1 as Alfa Romeo left as a title sponsor at the end of 2023 with Stake replacing them for 2024.

Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu remain teammates for a third consecutive season after they finished ninth in the Constructors’ Championship last year.

Total-Motorsport.com journalists Adam DickinsonJasmine HughesJoe Krishnan, Ed Spencer and Brandon Sutton take a look at what to expect from Sauber in 2024.

Brandon Sutton: Signing Sainz pivotal for Sauber

It seems set to be another long year for the newly-branded Sauber team. They have a strong lead driver in the form of Bottas, as evidenced by the first half of the 2022 season, and a reliable back-up in Zhou.

But without the car to make an impression, they’re probably going to languish around the back bar the odd points finish here and there, much like 2023. They scored seven points finishes last season with a best place of eighth and it’s hard to see how they’re going to improve on that considering they didn’t make much headway last season either.

Stake F1 team launch C44 car for 2024 season | Sauber

Perhaps they could have a puncher’s chance at some tracks if they can produce solid one-lap pace since Bottas is a fine qualifier and the horsepower produced by the Ferrari isn’t too bad either, so they could rarely snag something from Alpine.

Yet most teams are making progress, bar one other, so it’s hard to see them being competitive. They will be second-last in my view. They should focus on getting Carlos Sainz in for 2025 above anything else.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 9th place

Adam Dickinson: Sauber haven’t done anything since Leclerc

Does any of it even matter? This is just a stopgap year anyway with the Audi takeover imminent and a driver line-up that probably won’t even be there to see it, under a banner that’s somehow only the second-worst team name on the grid.

If I sound pessimistic and frustrated, that’s because I am. Sauber is a team that’s done nothing except look pretty since Charles Leclerc left, is the only constructor without a win, pole position or podium in the past decade and wins F1’s Least Inspiring Driver Pairing Award for the sixth year running.

Stake F1 team launch C44 car for 2024 season | Sauber

That’s an especially big sin when have the hugely talented, highly-rated reigning F2 champion ready and waiting in their academy, and at time of writing they don’t even have a website.

However, they’re far from the most technically inept team on the grid and it will be interesting to see what James Key can add as technical director, while Alfa Romeo was actually more consistent than AlphaTauri in 2023 despite the final standings.

While Williams and RB have higher ceilings in 2024, I think Sauber have a better baseline than both teams and stay off the bottom of the championship.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 9th place

Joe Krishnan: Difficult to see Sauber not at the bottom

It would have been quite possibly one of the worst names in F1 history but for AlphaTauri changing its name to Visa CashApp RB. And sure, it’s just a name, but their ever-changing identity offers a hint at how seriously we should treat Sauber in this modern era.

Take their drivers, for example. It wasn’t long ago that Bottas was determined to hunt down Lewis Hamilton; now he’s just existing in order to pay for his jaunts to Australia.

Stake F1 team launch C44 car for 2024 season | Sauber

As for Zhou, his six-point haul in back-to-back seasons offers little to suggest he will take Sauber to new heights, yet he was handed a third season only for financial reasons.

It feels like he is a mere stopgap until Carlos Sainz inevitably takes his seat next season in time for when the team integrates Audi in 2026. And therein lies the problem. There’s so much change at Sauber that they can never really build any momentum.

I’m also not sure if anyone knows whether it’s Andreas Seidl or Alessandro Alunni Bravi in charge. Either way, it’s difficult to see them finishing anywhere but bottom of the pile.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 10th place

Jasmine Hughes: Zhou will prove his worth

Armed to the teeth with neon green branding and Drake-narrated promotional videos, Sauber has embraced a new identity for 2024 as it embarks on its transitional phase from Alfa Romeo to Audi ownership.

All that neon green might not be enough to distract from what is likely to be a rather middling year for Sauber. The team ended the 2023 season in ninth place overall, but only four points separated it and last-placed Haas.

Stake F1 team launch C44 car for 2024 season | Sauber

Zhou enters into his third year with the team this season. With Sauber Academy driver Theo Pourchaire lurking in the background, having won the F2 Championship, 2024 will be the year for Zhou to really prove his worth at the team. This added sense of motivation could yield positive results for both Zhou and the team.

Sauber will likely be in strongest competition with Haas and RB (another team undergoing an identity crisis) this year, the three teams fighting not to be last.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 9th place

Ed Spencer: Disappointing present, bright future

With Audi waiting in the wings, Sauber is a team preparing for a bright future but a disappointing present. Sauber have been wounded from the departure of Frederic Vasseur to Ferrari.

Bottas and Zhou are a solid pairing, but both are in contrasting phases of their F1 careers. Bottas, on occasion, showed flashes of speed in 2023, but he’s not as quick as he once was and is seemingly in the twilight of his Grand Prix career.

Stake F1 team launch C44 car for 2024 season | Sauber

Meanwhile, Zhou comes into his third season with a point to prove after two solid, albeit unspectacular seasons and needs to up his game if he wants to retain his seat for 2025.

Adding extra pressure on Zhou is the progress of Sauber Academy driver Theo Pourchaire in Japan’s Super Formula series, with the Frenchman showing early promise in the series’ rookie test.

With Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon out of contract at season’s end, both Zhou and Bottas need to ring everything out of their new stead if they want to stay around for the Audi revolution.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 9th place

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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