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Sauber’s use of a 2018 Ferrari Formula 1 engine will be a “big leap” from contending with a year-old specification last season, according to driver Marcus Ericsson.
The Swiss team will have closer ties with Ferrari next season through a multi-year deal with the Italian manufacturer’s sister company Alfa Romeo.
It includes strategic, commercial and technological cooperation, enhancing an arrangement that already included use of the latest specification engine.
Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur, who cancelled a Honda engine deal to go with new Ferrari power units, said the team had an aerodynamic deficiencies as well as an engine deficit last season.
Ericsson told Autosport during an event with Formula Medicine this week he is “confident” of significant progress from the car overall.
“I think it’s a big leap to have the same engine as Ferrari,” he said.
“The team have a lot of confidence and a desire to do well.
“I got to see the car in a computer rendering and it seems very beautiful – it should be an important step forward.
“Alfa Romeo’s partnership means the return of an historic brand to F1.
“It is one more reason to believe that Ferrari will give us maximum support to grow.”
Sauber finished last in the constructors’ championship in 2017 as it struggled with the year-old Ferrari power unit.
Ericsson, who will be partnered by Formula 2 champion and Ferrari protege Charles Leclerc this season, believes Sauber can target established midfield runners immediately.
He also thinks occassional giant-killing performances will be possible.
“We’re up against Haas and Toro Rosso,” he said. “I think next season will be very unpredictable in some races.
“It could go very well and at points we could also challenge Renault and Force India.
“But there will be other races where there will be problems and we will be further down.
“The goal is simply to get into the group of teams that are in the midfield – but it is clear that there will be a very open battle grand prix after grand prix.
“I want to be in the best shape possible to find the satisfaction that was missing in 2017.”