Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn says they will have a tough job overhauling Mercedes in the Constructors' Championship
Swiss independent team can claim fifth place this weekend
By Mike Wise at Interlagos
Last Updated: 23/11/12 10:46am
With only Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix to run, Mercedes hold a 12-point lead over Sauber in the standings - the German manufacturer having failed to score in the last five races.
Yet the Swiss outfit have hardly been firing on all cylinders either. Although Kamui Kobayashi has two points finishes to his name in that time - including a third-place in his home race in Japan - the record of team-mate Sergio Perez matches that of Mercedes.
The Mexican might have earned three podiums, including two second places, so far this season and earned himself a move to McLaren, but he has failed to score since that switch was announced and has also become more error-prone.
Rain is forecast for the race and if, for example, Perez could reproduce his performance in the wet in Malaysia at the start of the season then the small independent team could well find themselves humbling the giant manufacturer.
"We know that it's a very, very tough job. We've had the chance to do this for the last five races and we haven't got our act together on that," Kaltenborn, Sauber's Team Principal, said on Thursday.
"So we know it's very difficult - the pressure is the highest it can be to achieve that. It is possible, but it was also possible five races before.
"We have to avoid all mistakes which we have been making so far, to still have this chance."
The financial reward - estimated at between $3 million and $5 million - might not be huge in the context of F1 costs but it would still be welcomed by Sauber, who have struggled for cash since BMW withdrew its support three years ago.
"If it works out, it's a great achievement for the team. Because if you look at where we had to start again at the end of 2009, we've been going in the right direction step-by-step and to get this kind of step in a short time is a great achievement," Kaltenborn added.
"It will give us a lot of confidence. Of course it has an effect on the finances, it makes the team generally more attractive for new partners. So there can be a lot of positive effects to it.
"But we really need to get everything right to achieve that - and that's going to be tough."
Sauber's cause might actually be helped by their rivals, whose attentions have been turning more and more towards their 2013 efforts at recent races.
"We are not judging ourselves on disappointment. We should have scored more points that's for sure. It's not a surprise that people come close to you when you have not been scoring points for five races," Mercedes Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug said.
"It's not for me to judge Sauber but they have a very good car. They also did not take every opportunity to score points
"Of course, it's better to be fifth, it's better for us. But we are where we are and we have to fight it through and concentrate on next year, learn from that and come back better."