With their regain development momentum due probably to better finance and feedback from the drivers (I suppose it help), I'm wondering how much could be gained in performance if the car had less opening and odd geometries and be just a bit more streamlined. I know it's not like changing stuff will for sure equal +2 or +3 tenth per lap (balanced package etc.), but the cooling layout on the bodywork and the internals doesn't look to be the most optimal configuration (no one else on the grid has a similar setup for now).
We saw Ferrari's effort this year to reduce the drag on every area of its car having some potential gain, so Sauber could follow the same path and produce a decent car.
We might not get an answer soon unfortunately, Sauber just announced switching focus to 2019, but we can wonder if introducing this slightly more conventional side pod design before moving on to 2019 couldn't be used as a starting point to clean the overall design of the car? This way they can compare data between the different side pod configuration.
Source for the 2019 announcement
https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/saub ... t-1062160/
It can't really only be the engine that helped them in joining the top 10 recently, last year Ferrari power unit wasn't slow so this year the chassis side must have gotten better.