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Zander: Sauber more motivated for 2017 following takeover

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Recently-appointed Sauber technical director Jörg Zander says that the team is “much more motivated” following the takeover by Longbow Finance last year that secured its long-term future.

Sauber endured a difficult 2016 season that was largely beset by financial concerns, with the ship being steadied when investment group Longbow took over the operation in July.

The deal allowed Sauber to push on with upgrades that helped it overtake Manor in the constructors’ championship and gain a boost in prize money in the process.

The injection of cash also gave Sauber the chance to go on a recruitment drive, with Zander joining after Audi’s decision to end its LMP1 program, having previously served as its technical director.

Speaking in an interview on Sauber’s website, Zander said that he found the F1 team to be much more motivated following the takeover, and expressed his confidence in the operation at Hinwil.

“The impressions are positive. I have received a warm welcome and felt comfortable early on in a well-known environment,” Zander said.

“I am pleased with the attitude of my team. After the frustrations and fears of the recent turbulence, everyone is now much more motivated. There are obviously expectations; the team wants change, stability and direction and that is what we strive to achieve together.

“The technical conditions are ideal. In terms of the development and production we are independent, which enables short development cycles and flexibility. The Sauber wind tunnel is one of the best aerodynamic development sites in professional motorsport.”

Zander has set his sights on a “clear improvement” from Sauber in 2017 after it scored just two points through the 2016 campaign courtesy of Felipe Nasr’s ninth-place finish in Brazil.

“Our objective is to establish ourselves in the midfield,” Zander said.

“In comparison to last year, we will implement our development plan for the whole season, but we have to be realistic as our reference is at a lower level than the ones of our competitors.

“We are on plan with the C36 and we are optimistic that our current development is heading in the right direction. At the moment it is impossible to make any predictions compared to our competitors due to the new regulations.

“Overall, 2017 will be an important year for us. The structure and process optimizations have to be defined and implemented. These are not procedures that can be implemented through literature or instructions – these are individual adjustments in which human attributes and culture play an important role.

“The team has to accept those changes and get comfortable with the new circumstances. That takes time.”

Felix Rosenqvist leads practice 3 at Laguna Seca; Newgarden second fastest

Stephen King/IndyCar
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MONTEREY, Calif – Felix Rosenqvist was the fastest driver in the third practice session for the IndyCar season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday morning, posting a lap 1 minute, 11.7732 seconds around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden finished the session second fastest, 0.1823 seconds behind, with teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud ending the session third and fourth fastest.

Takuma Sato, who was recently announced as returning to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing next season, rounded out the top five.

All of the four championship contenders ended the session within the top 10, with Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi finishing eighth and tenth, respectfully.

Click here for full practice results

Live coverage of qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey is at 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold and race coverage begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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