Marcus Ericsson has admitted Sauber faces a challenge to avoid finishing last in the 2016 Formula 1 constructors' standings after rivals Manor got itself off the mark with a top ten result in the Austrian Grand Prix.
A tenth place finish by Pascal Wehrlein at the Red Bull Ring marks only the second time in Manor's history that it has cracked the points, in turn lifting it ahead of Sauber in the constructors' standings with 11 rounds of the season remaining.
Mirroring their battle for the all-important ninth spot in the 2014 constructors' standings – which Manor (Marussia) won after Sauber suffered its first ever point-less campaign -, Ericsson admits the Swiss outfit faces a challenge to claim top ten finishes with a car that he says has received no updates since it was rolled out in pre-season testing.
“It's going to be difficult because always in Formula One if you're starting from behind it's difficult to catch up because everyone is steadily improving. Still we have the same car as we had on day one of testing in Barcelona so I think we some upgrades hopefully for us that can be a bigger step than for other people bringing smaller updates. Let's hope so.”
Though cash-strapped Sauber is rumoured to have acquired the investment it needs to guarantee its future for the time being, it confirmed this week that it will skip the upcoming two-day Silverstone F1 test because its planned update isn't ready. For Ericsson, that update could prove crucial to whether it can overhaul Manor in 2016.
“I mean, it's great for them [Manor] but not so nice for us,” the Swede said. “Of course it's a bit frustrating, we're fighting with them but they were strong all weekend and that's the way it is. We cannot be frustrated at them scoring, we need to be frustrated at us being so slow. So we need to look at ourselves and work harder and improve.
“I think we need to get some updates going and on the car and if we get that I think hopefully we can be back in a position where we can fight for points.”