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As Jorg Zander leaves Sauber F1 team: What happens now?

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As Jorg Zander leaves Sauber F1 team: What happens now?
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May 4, 2018, 3:54 PM

Despite their best start to a season for three years, Sauber find themselves without a technical director following the sudden departure of Jörg ...

Despite their best start to a season for three years, Sauber find themselves without a technical director following the sudden departure of Jörg Zander.

The news comes off the back of a stunning sixth-place finish for rookie Charles Leclerc at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Monegasque driver demonstrated excellent race pace to capitalise on a chaotic Grand Prix and secure Sauber's best result since the 2015 Russian Grand Prix (where Felipe Nasr took sixth place).

Zander joined Sauber from Audi Sport - who were reducing their motorsport programme following Volkswagen's emissions scandal - in 2017 and was considered a major coup for the team at the time.

Prior to his stint with Audi, Zander worked for in Formula One for Toyota, British American Racing, Williams, Honda and was with Sauber briefly during the team's time under BMW ownership.

His return to Sauber in 2017 meant that expectations were high for a team desperate to return to competing solidly in the midfield in 2018.

Sauber's upturn in form in 2018 means that they're no longer guaranteed to be at the foot of the constructor's championship, and - thanks to points-scoring finishes from both Leclerc and team-mate Marcus Ericsson - they already have more points than their 2016 and 2017 seasons combined.

Ericsson secured Sauber's first points of the season with a ninth-place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix thanks to a adverse tyre strategy, with Leclerc following up with his points haul a couple of races later.

With their strong start to the season in mind, the sudden departure of their technical director is perplexing and mystery surrounds the background. Performance would not be an obvious criteria.

The statement published by Sauber revealed that there was no new organisational structure taking place, with team principal Frédéric Vasseur overseeing the development work. Sauber has a technical collaboration with Ferrari, not quite to the same extent as Haas, but nevertheless there is significant support.

"Until a new organisation will be announced, the various heads of departments and the current project leaders will continue to work on the development of the C37 and the 2019 car with the supervision of Frédéric Vasseur, CEO and Team Principal."

Intra-team reshuffles would often be planned in advance, with the lack of replacement suggesting that this is a sudden departure.

Whilst Sauber are now without a technical director, their recruitment drive continues. A cursory glance at their jobs sections shows that they are still on the lookout for senior (experienced in Formula One) aerodynamicists amongst other engineering roles.

Despite the blip of parting company with such an experienced engineer, their future appears more secure than it did a couple of seasons ago. The new investment, firstly from Longbow Finance and more recently from Alfa Romeo, seems to be improving the fortunes at the Hinwil team and, depending on how well they can compete in the development race, they could well improve on last season's position in the constructors' championship.

All images: Motorsport Images

What are your thoughts? Do you think Sauber can keep up with the 2018 development race? Leave your comments below.
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Sauber
Author Luke Murphy