Sauber is gearing itself up to fend off a renewed threat from McLaren and Toro Rosso as it continues to tread a cash-strapped development programme into the 2016 F1 season.
While it accepts that McLaren's nightmare 2015 campaign is unlikely to be repeated, the Swiss squad is also facing up to the fact that its tight budget is forcing it into an upgrade of its promising 2015 car, rather than being able to explore more wide-ranging changes for the coming year. The C34 was good enough to push the Hinwil-based outfit between ninth-placed McLaren and the similarly improved Toro Rosso squad, finishing the year in eighth overall after a 2015 campaign that failed to yield a single point.
Despite Felipe Nasr
claiming that Sauber had halted its 2015 development early in order to concentrate on the coming season, race engineer Erik Schuivens has admitted that the team's 2016 challenger will build on the car that allowed it to bounce back from its own year in the doldrums.
"[The C35] will be a development of the 2015 car, unfortunately," Schuivens was quoted by GPUpdate.net
, "Of course, lots of things on the car will be new, but it won't be a revolution, more an evolution, because of the financial situation.
“The more money you can spend, the more you can do. I hope we make a step forward, but the other teams will progress as well - McLaren, for example, but also Toro Rosso. They already had a strong chassis and, with a better power unit, it will be difficult for us to beat them.
"We hope to make it into Q2 and, now and then, Q3 so we can score points without depending on other cars to retire. If we succeed in doing that, we have done a good job."
Sauber will feature an unchanged line-up of Nasr and Marcus Ericsson for 2016.