The transformation of Sauber from also-rans, on the verge of extinction, to potent midfield contenders during the course of the past season has been a revelation, much of the credit for the revival has to go to no-nonsense team principal Frederic Vasseur.
It is easy to forget that Sauber nearly folded not long ago, but new investors came to the rescue, ushered out Monisha Kaltenborn, hired Vasseur and a proper Formula 1 race team has Switzerland once again.
The Frenchman came into the picture and ditched a Honda engine deal to remain Ferrari-powered and with it attract cash and brand injection from Maranello’s sister company Alfa Romeo. The Swiss team aligning with the organisation even further by taking on their rookie protege Charles Leclerc.
In 2017, Sauber scored five points and finished last in the constructors’ standings. Fast-forward a year and the improvement is impressive: 48 points and eighth in the championship.
On the driver front, Marcus Ericsson proved he was not as bad as most of us thought he was, but no match for young Leclerc who put behind him a shaky start to his rookie season to claim a fine sixth place in the chaotic race in Baku.
From there he went from strength-to-strength, so much so that Ferrari felt it the right time to promote the 21-year-old to the senior team for 2019 and beyond. Mission accomplished, thank you Sauber!
Furthermore, while rival teams put in place five-year turnaround plans the revitalised Swiss outfit showed how much can be achieved in one year with proper leadership and teamwork.
Finally, of course, the masterstroke was the fact that they have handed everyone’s favourite, Kimi Raikkonen, another two years in the top flight – stuff you could not seriously script. Big kudos to all concerned at Hinwill.
Granted, the obvious choice for Team of the Year would be Mercedes because the World Champions were just about faultless all year and incredibly strong during the second half of the season, however, to be fair they did stumble once or twice with calls from the pit wall. Nevertheless, they are without a doubt still the Formula 1 dream team for any driver.
Mercedes win everything, so this one is for the minnows: 2018 Team of the Year: Sauber.