Peter Sauber has expressed his conviction that his eponymously-named outfit will benefit from rather greater sponsorship next year than has been the case in F1 2010 – and will 'get closer to the other teams' into the bargain.
The BMW-bestowed C29 – what Sauber has rather uncharitably described as 'an unpleasant parting gift' from the previous owner [see separate story – click here
] – has been bereft of major sponsorship decals this season, with the eleventh-hour nature of his repurchase of the Hinwil-based operation from the Bavarian manufacturer and the resultant uncertainty over the team's presence on the 2010 starting grid having caused many potential backers to shy away.
However, despite an abject beginning to the campaign bedevilled by reliability woes and below-par performance, the doughty Swiss underdogs have progressively improved in recent months, with both the experienced Pedro de la Rosa and feisty F1 'rookie' Kamui Kobayashi popping up into the top ten on occasion in qualifying and between them notching up five points-scoring finishes from the last six grands prix, with highlights of a superb sixth for the young Japanese ace at Silverstone and a double score last time out at the Hungaroring.
That kind of form has seemingly brought the team to the attention of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim – the richest man in the world – and his TELMEX telecommunications empire, with the whisper being that a deal might be on the cards for a title sponsorship agreement in 2011, perhaps in conjunction with bringing either Pastor Maldonado or fellow GP2 Series front-runner Sergio Perez into the top flight in one of the two Sauber cockpits.
The team presently lies eighth in the constructors' title chase, chasing Force India F1 and Williams who are respectively 24 points and 17 points in front. Sauber himself is confident that the only way now is up.
“We will get closer to the other teams,” the 67-year-old is quoted as having said by The Sport Review
. “We are already close to Williams, sometimes behind, sometimes in front, and it's the same with Mercedes. That clearly shows that it's possible with limited budget to go forward – the lap times are on a very good level.
“I believe that [in 2011] we will be at a competitive level. There is a good possibility for new partners, and we are working very hard on that. We're sure we will have more colour on the car next year. I don't know what basic colour – it depends on the sponsor.”