Eponymous Formula One team boss Peter Sauber has confirmed that his return to the top flight took another turn for the worse after round three, when it was revealed that both engines used in the Malaysian Grand Prix were done for the year.
While some teams have been able to use high mileage engines in Friday practice at subsequent events, Sauber revealed that the problems suffered by both Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi at Sepang had rendered the Ferrari powerplants hors de combat
for the remainder of the season, eating into the eight-unit allowance permitted to each driver.
"It's not so easy to explain, maybe you have to ask the technicians, but we expected more, especially after the good winter tests," Sauber said of his team's poor start to the 2010 campaign, "In Bahrain, there were two hydraulic problems - one was a mistake, but I think both failures were not necessary - and [in Malaysia], it was a pressure sensor and we can't use the engines again."
Despite suffering engine woes of its own - with Fernando Alonso retiring in Malaysia and then dropping out of first practice in China with smoke pouring from the exhausts - Ferrari insists that the two teams are suffering unconnected problems.
“We have carried out an in-depth study into what happened and the two problems are not related to one another,” the Scuderia's engine head Luca Marmorini told the Italian team's official website, “In Sepang, Fernando's engine suffered a structural failure, of a type we had never seen during the winter, and we believe there was a role played by the unusual way in which the driver had to use the engine during the race, because of the gear selection problems he experienced right from the start.
"There is no connection with the problem the Sauber team experienced on the engine front at the last race, which we believe was down to an issue with electronic sensors."
Despite the disappointing start to life without BMW, Sauber insists that his team continues to be a happy place.
"I think the atmosphere was good as a works team as well as a private team," he noted, "I think the atmosphere was also very good with BMW, so there is no difference. For sure, the team is now much smaller - it's about a third smaller than before, with 260 employees - so it's more a family than a big company."