Kick Sauber unveiled their 2024 challenger, the C44, at a glittering event at London’s Guildhall. It sports a dazzling new fluorescent green and black livery.
The Sauber-run team, who will run under the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber banner this year, are embarking on a new era after saying goodbye to Italian title sponsor Alfa Romeo.
The Swiss operation says the C44 is “a marked departure from its predecessor”, and a “slew of changes have been introduced”. One of the most significant tweaks is a move from push-rod to pull-rod suspension.
The C44 also features revised sidepods and engine cover, plus a new floor – one of the most critical areas for development when pursuing pure lap time. The team adds that “some important updates” will be brought to the car “in the opening rounds”. ”
The Sauber-run team will have an unchanged line-up of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu for the third successive season.
“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 today,” said Team Representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi. “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 the Stake F1 Team.
“We have a fresh new identity and 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, and 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.”
Technical Director James Key, who returned to the Hinwil team last September after stints at Toro Rosso and McLaren, added: “The Kick Sauber C44 is virtually a completely new car, with a few carry-over areas at the rear of the vehicle. The team had to take an ambitious direction well before I joined: there are many mechanical changes, some of which you can’t see, but some are very visible.
“The front suspension is completely new, a tough and ambitious project for a team of our size. There are many aerodynamic changes, too, as would be expected given that this remains the primary area of development – so, overall, the car will look quite different from last year’s. We also have manyf new, exciting directions, all of which appear to hold quite a bit of potential, so we’re looking forward to seeing them on track.”
Bottas said: “The new C44 feels different in terms of looks and what we can expect from the car. We need to perform as a team and extract the most from this package, which has impressive potential – nothing else matters. The objectives need to be lofty, going into the third season together with a team.
“My expectations are high; we 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, but I have seen some real enthusiasm back in Hinwil, and I am confident we can do it.”
Zhou said: “First, you can’t miss the colour! It’s an inspiring 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 precisely 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 the track.
“The expectations are high, but, at the same time, we know we won’t know where we stand until we start competing against our rivals. Still, much effort went into the new car, and I’m excited to drive it soon.”
The Kick Sauber C44 will hit the track for the first time on Friday when it completes a shakedown at Barcelona. The team will then travel to Bahrain for three days of pre-season testing at the same venue before the season opens.