The backing brought by BMW was indicative of what Sauber can ultimately achieve in F1 if it had additional funding, believes current team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.

Having started out in F1 as an engine supplier, BMW entered the sport as a fully-fledged manufacturer via a collaboration with the existing privateer Sauber team between 2006 and 2009. It proved a successful partnership, with Robert Kubica claiming its sole win at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix and the team finishing second overall in the 2007 constructors' standings.

When BMW retreated from F1 at the end of 2009 season, Sauber reverted back to a privateer team and has remained as such since.

Related Articles

Looking back on that period, Kaltenborn says the influx of investment from BMW was a sign of what can be achieved with big budget manufacturer backing, but insists it was only made possible by the quality of the existing Sauber set up in the first place.

With this in mind, she feels Sauber would be an ideal candidate for any manufacturer pondering another collaboration.

"We've always been in the midfield and must have been a pretty good platform for BMW to come to us for the majority," she said. "Then you see in hardly any time what a jump we made and that tells you what drives us to get the most out of the finances.

"The team stayed where it was in the BMW times, the team people stayed, obviously we had more people then, but the facilities were expanded and we have the same today. We didn't have many external staff coming in and all that is still there.

"That tells you if we have the right kind of funding we can make a big leap ahead, but of course if you want to get right to the top you need a bit more.

"There were not that many from BMW at the team before they left. You could count them on one hand. Today our operations director is a former BMW guy and he stayed on."

Despite this, Kaltenborn says there is no discussion that BMW could consider a comeback, but would expect a similar partnership if they did.

"They know us really well personally and we still have good contacts with them. They know what they want and there is no point in trying to convince them to do something they might not want. We will wait and see. If certain things stay the same BMW think they might have to change a little bit [before returning] to the sport and then they will be open to that."