Marcus Ericsson will be amongst the most interested onlookers as the wraps finally come off the 2016 Sauber ahead of final pre-season testing this coming week.

The Swiss team is scheduled to become the eleventh and last F1 team to launch its latest contender, but will be playing catch-up on its rivals, all of whom had four days of running with their new toys in Barcelona last wee. With the same circuit being employed for the forthcoming session, Sauber will have its work cut-out to make inroads, but Ericsson is happy just to get his hands on a 2016-spec machine after making do with a tweaked version of last year's midfield runner last week.

"It's not been a very long winter, but it feels like it was a long winter!" the Swede told, "The last month, especially, I have been quite eager to get back behind the wheel, so Monday was a lot of fun as I jumped back in.

"We had two good days but, of course, it's not ideal not to have the new car straight away because, today, there is not a lot of testing and now we only have four days basically with the new car. It would have been better to have had it from the start, but we knew that this would be the case so we made a programme to try and maximise the days anyway."

Ericsson, who admitted to not yet having seen the 2016 car in the flesh, completed a programme of back-to-back comparisons between last year's set-up and directions the team wanted to explore with a view to the coming season and reported that progress had been made that could prove interesting. However, he conceded that there would be nothing like finally putting the 2016 machine on track...

"I don't think we had very steep development during the [2015] season," he reflected, "I think we were stronger at the beginning but, for sure, the car is nicer balanced now and we have a better platform that at this time last year, so it is interesting to look back and compare [the 2015 car] to where we were last year. For sure, we've taken steps forward and hopefully the new car will be another good step forward too.

"It's a new concept, basically, on the aero side, but it's how we want to run the car. It's quite different to [last] year's car in a way so we'll see... We've been working on weight-saving, it will be interesting to see how the new power unit from Ferrari works, and we also think we have some gains in mechanical grip, so it's a bit of everything. It will be interesting, next week, to see how it works on track and, so far, what we've seen from the numbers looks good, a step forward, but, before you actually try it on track, you're never really sure."

With just four days of running left before the cars have to be freighted to Melbourne for next month's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Sauber will be hoping to make its new baby as bulletproof as possible before turning its attention to extracting performance.

"The main thing is to try and run as much as possible - we need to get the laps done and make the car reliable straight away," Ericsson confirmed, "The most important thing is that we go to Australia having done as many laps as possible with the new car as, usually the problem when you bring a new car, is that you get the small problems that we don't want to have on the race weekend in Melbourne. "



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