The Sauber F1 Team head to this weekend’s 2016 Formula One season opener the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit following a difficult winter for the Hinwil based outfit.

The Ferrari powered C35 only made its on track debut during the second winter test at the Barcelona Circuit Du Catalunya and on Monday it was confirmed by the team that after only eight months as technical director Mark Smith has left the outfit for family reasons and has returned to the UK.

For 2016, the Swiss based outfit have continuity in their driving pairing with Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson retained for a second season.

In Australia last season the team scored a double points finish with Nasr ending the race in fifth place while Marcus Ericsson ended the event in eighth place. Speaking ahead of this weekend’s on track action, Ericsson stated:

I cannot wait to finally kick off the 2016 Formula 1 season in Melbourne. The Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park is always special as the atmosphere is great – I enjoy being in Australia. I also have great memories from last year as I scored my first points in Formula One there. Looking back to the last few weeks, the preparations during the test days in Barcelona went well, and I felt comfortable with the C35. Now we have to see how things work out during a race weekend. I am confident the team has worked hard to be in a good shape for the season opener in Melbourne.

Felipe Nasr commented on the start of the new season by saying:

The Australian Grand Prix reminds me of my fantastic result from last year. Finishing fifth in my first ever Formula One race is something I will probably never forget. It is nice to come back to Albert Park with these great memories. During testing in Barcelona I had some productive days collecting good mileage in the C35. I feel well prepared to start my second Formula One season. I am curious to see where we stand with the C35 in comparison to the other teams. Everyone within the factory in Hinwil has worked really hard, so we deserve a successful start to the 2016 Formula One season.

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