Budget Hinders Sauber's Progress

Sauber duo Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve have been told that their team may not be able to resolve all of the problems with their current C24 - because the outfit simply cannot afford necessary modifications

Budget Hinders Sauber's Progress

Although aerodynamic improvements introduced at the San Marino Grand Prix helped the team deliver their most competitive showing of the season so far, a more fundamental problem in how the chassis interacts with its Michelin tyres has been discovered by the team.

But the loss of major sponsor Red Bull over the winter, allied to the fact that the team now have to pay for their tyres, has left the team with less of a budget than they have had in recent years. It means the kind of modifications that would resolve the tyre issue are simply not possible at the moment.

Team boss Peter Sauber, whose team had to design their car prior to gaining a full understanding of Michelin characteristics, said: "The Michelin tyre needs more weight on the front end of the car, so you would design a car with the engine moved forward and with a longer gearbox.

"Michelin tyres also require different settings of the suspension which ultimately would lead to another gearbox. All that, given our financial background, is simply not possible to do with the C24."

Sauber is encouraged, however, by the steps the team are managing to make to overcome some of the aerodynamic issues with the car - and he has admitted that if he can now get Villeneuve better integrated with the C24 then he will start worrying himself with the team budget and future engine supply deals.

"The top priority is the car, then we have to help Jacques Villeneuve to perform better. Number three on the list is the budget, while number four is the engine partner for the upcoming years."

Sauber is hoping to make a decision about whether to definitely sign-up as a BMW customer later this month, although sources claim that he is also now considering a late offer from Mercedes-Benz - which is believed to be for just $10 million per year.

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