Formula 1

Sauber reveals 2024 F1 car with striking new Stake livery

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Sauber’s Formula 1 team has revealed a self-described "aggressive" 2024 car with a brand new look at the launch of its ‘Stake F1 Team’ era.

The major rebrand in the name and colour of its title sponsor Stake will bridge the gap between Sauber’s years as Alfa Romeo and its transformation into Audi’s works team in 2026.

The officially-titled Stake F1 Team C44, which will make its track debut on Friday at a shakedown at Barcelona, has a distinctive new colour scheme with fluro-green on a carbon base.

Beyond the new livery, Sauber technical director James Key calls the C44 “virtually a completely new car” with just a few carry-over areas at the rear from its predecessor.

As ex-McLaren man Key only started in September, he admits that the team had to commit to an “ambitious direction well before I joined”.

Having been one of two teams to run with pushrod suspension geometry both at the front and rear - the other being what was then called AlphaTauri - Sauber has switched to a pullrod configuration at the front while at the rear it sticks with the pushrod configuration it introduced in 2022.

This pullrod-pushrod combination matches the design approach taken last year only by Red Bull and McLaren.

There are also clear bodywork changes with Key calling its aerodynamic direction “a lot more extreme than last year”, following the direction set by Red Bull.

The lower edge of the sidepod inlet has been moved forward, in similar fashion to Red Bull, and the sidepod has a different shape and style of undercut to last year.

Instead of being flat, wide and running smoothly down to the rear the C44’s sidepods have a taller mid-section that creates a more concave surface akin to the ‘waterslide’ style designs we’ve seen on cars like the late 2023 Mercedes.

“Overall, the car will really look quite different to last year's car," said Key.

“We took a lot of new, exciting directions, all of which appear to hold quite a bit of potential, so we're looking forward to seeing them on track.”

PROGRESS DEMANDED

The 2023 Sauber had too much drag and could not always run at as low a ride-height as was hoped without skid wear problems.

The car also still suffered from the rear-end instability problems in faster corners, even though that weakness was improved from the previous year. It usually worked better in slower corners.

Key has also pointed to how the team approached tyre management as needing to improve, calling it “quite far behind where we needed”.

One factor that will be key to Sauber putting up a better fight in the midfield will be making more progress on turning new designs into parts.

Sauber got better last year with the effectiveness of the upgrades that did make it to the track but was nowhere near as prolific as some midfield rivals.

There should be an opportunity to improve this year. Sauber invested in its production and design departments at Hinwil in 2023, as well as a new CFD configuration that improved its calculation capacity and output, and is in the midst of upgrading its windtunnel.

The team has already flagged “important updates” that are in progress and should arrive in the “opening rounds”, with Key calling its development plan “aggressive”.

Valtteri Bottas, who is preparing for his third year at the team and partners with Zhou Guanyu once again, said the team must have “lofty” objectives for 2024.

“My own expectations are high,” he said.

“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.

“We need to fix that now, we need to step up our game and do better.”

‘BIG TRANSFORMATION PROCESS’

Team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi says this season and next make up a “big transformation process” before Sauber becomes Audi’s works F1 team.

The next two seasons are critical to laying the right foundation for a lower-midfield entry to become a team that can deliver on Audi’s target of being very competitive within three years.

With investment from both the Sauber and Audi sides, there is work going on to improve this team from all angles.

In addition to technical infrastructure improvements at Sauber’s headquarters, more experienced race team personnel have already been hired, new pitstop equipment will be used this year and there is an ongoing technical recruitment drive too.

“It gives us an opportunity to generate new positions, new capabilities in the team, as well as reinforce the good capabilities we have,” said Key.

“We have a great opportunity for the future. We know that there's not much time to get things prepared, so we're working hard to get everything in the right place.

“It's a rare opportunity and everyone is really looking forward to the challenges ahead. We have a very, very exciting time ahead of us.”

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