The Stake F1 Team C44 for Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou to contest the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, was revealed today kick-starting a new era for Sauber.
The team’s drivers lifted the covers on a bold and aggressive bright day-glow green-on-black livery with the Stake brand shown prominently, a radical shift from previous more staid livery designs.
The Swiss team – four decades as a constructor in F1 – morphs into Stake F1 Team after a spell as Alfa Romeo, ahead of their partnership with Audi which comes on stream in 2026.
Sauber’s first race in F1 was at the 1993 South African Grand Prix. Since then they have contested 353 GP weekends as an independent team. Barring 2006 until the end of 2010 when they were BMW-Sauber. Adding another 89 GP starts, in that guise, to their portfolio.
As the Alfa Romeo partnership fades into history, the Ferrari-powered team now rebranded Stake F1 Team is creating a buzz as the sport’s latest entrant. Since announcing the name change they have leveraged their investment with above-the-line and below-the-line support to show the seriousness of their intent, more so now as F1 team owners.
Today’s C44 launch event was streamed on KICK, a video live-streaming service operated by Kick Streaming Pty Ltd and backed by Stake.com co-founders Bijan Tehrani, Ed Craven and streaming personality Trainwreckstv.
It’s not the kind of Formula 1 car you’ve ever seen before
The team boasted as the striking car livery broke cover: “It’s not the kind of Formula 1 car you’ve ever seen before. Aggressive, exciting, different – both on track and off it: the Stake F1 Team C44 is finally in the open and it’s already got the world of motorsport talking.”
Team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi said on the occasion of the launch: “The new car we unveiled today, the C44, is a tribute to the work done by James Key and the technical team, and to every man and woman in Hinwil, who all contributed to the car we see.
“Witnessing the launch of a new car is always a special moment, and even more so when it marks the start of a new era, that of Stake F1 Team. We have a fresh new identity and we are excited about everything we have planned, on and off the track: today, though, it is all about the C44 and its potential.
“We are confident about this car and our team: we won’t speak about specific targets, because it’s always difficult to commit to numbers, but our targets are clear – to improve the performance of our car and our package. By package, I mean every area, from the race team to the operations on track, the pit stops, the strategy: it’s more than just the car performance.
“We are committed in all departments to make this step, this is the target. Then, we will see where our position will be as the season progresses: but the key target is to improve this year and to deliver a better job than we did in 2023,” added Bravi.
The C44 is the result of the indefatigable work of hundreds of people back in Hinwil
Of the Sauber C44, the team revealed in the launch press kit: “The C44 is the result of the indefatigable work of hundreds of people back in Hinwil, who for months on end designed, developed, produced and finally assembled the new car with a growing sense of excitement.
“It’s the product of the determination of a technical team, led by Technical Director, James Key, to make a decisive step forward in the pecking order, to go back fighting where the team aims to fight.
“The C44 is a marked departure from its predecessor, the C43: a slew of changes has been introduced – some very visible, some more subtle – to bring performance to the package and open up new areas of development.
“The most visible, and perhaps most consequential, is the shift to a new pull-rod front suspension, compared to the push-rod system sported on the C43: the shift is testament to the solid work produced by the team in Hinwil, which committed vast resources to it, and is driven mostly by the desire to unlock the aerodynamics benefits of the pull-rod arrangement.
Aggressive aero package with an eye of developing during the course of the season
The press release adds: “The C44 sports also an aggressively redesigned aero package, with marked development evident in the sidepods and engine cover, which are taking existing concepts to new extremes and display the team’s ability to package the car in reduced spaces, a change that also required the redesign of many of the car’s internals
“A completely new floor, a key area to generating downforce. And, with the new development avenues opened by the choices made in the creation of the C44, the design team is already busy finalising some important updates that will be brought to track in the opening rounds of the championship, as the team intends to be a strong player in the development race.”
Sporting a slicked-back, ducktail look for the occasion, 34-year-old Borras said of his new ride: “The new C44 definitely feels different, both in terms of looks and of what we can expect from the car. We need to perform as a team and extract the most out of this package, which has some impressive potential – nothing else matters.
“Personally speaking, going into the third season together with a team, the objectives need to be lofty. My own expectations are high, we definitely need to make a good step and see good progress from last year, a season in which, in all honesty, we didn’t meet the targets that we set for ourselves.”
Bottas: We need to step up our game and do better
“We need to fix that now, we need to step up our game and do better, but I have seen some real enthusiasm back in Hinwil and I am confident we can do it,” added the Finn.
Zhou commented on the new car: “First, you know, you can’t miss the colour! It’s a very exciting new approach, especially in Formula One. And then from my side, of course, we’re hoping to be a fast one.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of effort since the last season, especially in the second half of the year, after the summer break, just to make sure that we understood exactly where we had to improve as a team and what the plan for the guys back in the factory would be for the winter: now is the time to put everything together and get the car on track.
“The expectations are high but, at the same time, we won’t know where we really stand until we start competing against our rivals. Still, a lot of effort went into the new car and I’m excited to drive it soon,” added the 24-year-old Chinese driver.
As attractive as the new Stake F1 Team car might look on launch day, it will look even better the further up the field it is during the course of the 2024 F1 season..