Now that the furore over Sauber's driver line-up
appears to be in the rear-view mirror, team principal Monisha Kaltenborn believes that the current pairing of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson is ideal for driving the team on.
Sauber has enjoyed a resurgence after last year's dire campaign resulted in zero points and a spot behind Marussia in the final teams' ranking. Both rookie Nasr and second-year driver Ericsson have featured in the points – the Swede for the first time in F1 since moving over from Caterham during the winter break – and Sauber currently sits a promising fifth in the 2015 constructors' table, just behind Red Bull and ahead of Lotus, Toro Rosso and Force India.
With two scoring finishes in four races, including a stunning fifth on debut amid the chaos of Giedo van der Garde's presence in Melbourne, Nasr holds down a place inside the drivers' top ten, while Ericsson has been unfortunate not to do better than eighth and tenth, and 14th in the overall standings.
“If you look at how close they are to each other, one is faster one time then, next time, it's the other one, so it's very well balanced,” Kaltenborn said of her two protégés, “That shows you what level they are [at], what level the car is and it just depends on who has the better day as to who is ahead.”
Sauber's scoring has gone in waves, with both drivers in the top ten in Australia and China, but missing out in Malaysia and Bahrain, often through no fault of their own. Kaltenborn admits that both should have recorded points in Sakhir, with a sticky wheel denying Ericsson his third score in four races but allowing the Swede to stand out in adversity
“Something didn't come off when they removed the wheel, so they had to remove it again and take that [part] manually off,” she explained, “Only then could the new wheel be attached. It was very unfortunate because I am sure he was in the points. He had shown a fantastic race and, even afterwards, he didn't give up at all. It's just one of those things.”
Despite the ups and downs, however, Kaltenborn is satisfied with the way things have gone for Sauber through the four 'flyaway' rounds, and is looking forward to more of the same as the season unfolds through Europe this summer.
“I think we've had a great start to the season, scoring points straight away,” she reflected, “In Malaysia, mistakes were made, but that's all part of it, and, in China, again, we were strong in a tough race. [In Bahrain], we were looking very good even if we didn't score points, and I think the race was a strong and impressive performance by the drivers. The car is competitive, the drivers have done a fantastic job – both of them – so that gives us a lot of optimism.”