Sauber boss Fred Vasseur says the Swiss outfit has entered 2018 in a much better position than last year thanks in part to the timely design process of its new car.
The Hinwil-based team endured a difficult time in 2017, with financial issues compounding the problems linked to the late design of its new-spec C36.
While a life-saving financial restructuring ensured Sauber's presence on the grid, performance remained depressed with the team failing to score a single championship point last season.
"The 2017 car was ready very late," Vasseur told Auto-Hebdo.
"It was a new project and if you are six months late, it only adds to a difficult situation and it's very difficult to catch up.
"The decision to use the 2016 Ferrari engine last year also did not help," he added.
"Now we have a brand new project. Sauber started very late last year, but the 2018 project is on schedule.
"But of course only the first test in Barcelona at the end of February will tell us where we are."
In addition to an optimised design and manufacturing schedule, and with its finances now in order, Sauber can also rely on an up-to-spec Ferrari power unit and the outstanding talent of new recruit Charles Leclerc, a young man destined for stardom according to many.
"Yes, there are many expectations and I think we have made some strong choices," Vasseur said.
"Above all with the engine -- having the 2018 Ferrari engine will mean a big step forward for us. And we have started with a new philosophy for the car."