Sauber is continuing to push for improvements in performance despite recent revelations that it was struggling financially.
Nico Hulkenberg's tenth place at Silverstone was a major morale boost to the Swiss outfit, which has struggled to repeat the feats of 2012, where Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi secured four podium finishes and the team finished sixth overall in the standings. With an all-new line-up, Sauber has managed just six points in 2013, and currently sits eighth overall, trailing next best Toro Rosso by 18.
Amid rumours that drivers and suppliers alike have not been paid recently, head of track engineering Tom McCullough found himself facing questions about the team's drop-off in performance.
“Well, obviously, last year, we started the year very strongly, scored a lot of points at the start of the season and, moving to the end of the year, we weren't quite as competitive on a regular basis,” he reflected, “The start of this season has moved us a couple of positions [down] in the team ranking from a competitiveness point of view and that very quickly drops you out of the points.
“So, as opposed to fighting in the points, you're just dropping out of the points. We're working very hard with the car to improve it to try to get back into the points-scoring positions on a more regular basis.”
Admitting that there are always limitations on how much work and progress that can be made, McCullough revealed that the team hopes to take a step forward ahead of the summer break.
“You always have to work within your budgets, from a technical point of view, where you're pushing very hard on the correlation side to understand the car as well as we can do,” he conceded, “We have an update package coming for the next race, which we'll be evaluating at the next test, so we're still pushing very hard – and, obviously, the more you can push the better.”
Friday free practice at the Nurburgring provided another minor boost for the team, as Hulkenberg and rookie team-mate Esteban Gutierrez were able to run through the planned programme in dry conditions and without any issues.
“The drivers were pretty happy with the car initially, and we explored some different set-ups today,” McCullough concluded, “We still have some work to do on the low fuel pace, but the higher fuel long runs were pretty strong. Now we have to look at our data tonight to give ourselves the best car for FP3.”