After the heroics last year at Hinwill where drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez claimed multiple podiums between them, it was back to reality this year for Sauber. Sergio Perez was snapped up by McLaren (before being dumped after a single season) the team moved to secure the services of Nico Hulkenberg who has been the midfield star over the past few seasons. Kamui Kobayashi couldn’t be retained despite being a fan favourite as the teams independent status means they have to look for sponsors and pay drivers. The Telmex sponsorship is a little of both, with Carlos Slim happy to part with cash for any driver as long as they are mexican thus Esteban Gutierrez was promoted from GP2 to partner the hulk for 2013.
Unlike 2012 the car was no match for the Pirelli’s and in the first part of the season it chewed its way through rear tyres like a Mercedes, however after the tyre change and a clever upgrade in Hungary the season turned around but the team couldn’t catch their rivals and well back to 7th place. Nico Hulkenberg scored the lions share of points as Gutierrez looked like a fish lacking copious amounts of water, the Mexican would turn things around somewhat in the latter part of the year claiming a single 7th place to put some points on the board. At this time however his team mate was scoring faster than anyone in the midfield recording a 4th, 5th and two 6th places in the final half of the year.
However despite this up turn in form, it was looking like the bank balance was heading the other way. It was revealed that Hulkenberg had not been paid at all during the season and the team were in serious trouble at one point with winding up orders asked for from various suppliers. The team have taken on some wealthy Russian backers but it may lead them to having to place Sergy Sirotkin in the car next season, which could be a disaster as he has little pedigree in even the traditional feeder series for the top flight. However this hasn’t discouraged Adrian Sutil from signing up in a straight swap for Nico Hulkenberg and will lead the team next year. His team mate is still a mystery and could depend on which set of foreign investors have the deeper pockets.