Sauber's 'spiral' of positive events last year were key in attracting Kimi Raikkonen to join for 2019, says team boss Fred Vasseur.
The Finn surprised everyone by announcing a move back to the Swiss outfit mere minutes after it was confirmed Charles Leclerc would be replacing him at Ferrari this season.
While Raikkonen has claimed his love for driving is the reason for his decision, Vasseur believes the step forward Sauber took is what interested Kimi the most.
“We had Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Charles joining the team, we took [aerodynamicist] Jan Monchaux, Simone Resta [as technical director] and brought them into the factory," he said to Autosport.
“Each week we had good news, it’s like a spiral. The motivation is there, the mood is huge compared to last year, the team spirit.”
The partnership with Alfa, which also brought closer ties to Ferrari, was considered the main boost, helping the team to their best season since 2015, finishing eighth in the Constructors' championship with 48 points.
“For me, drivers are the same. Good engineers you can motivate with the salary but they love racing and they want to get results,” Vasseur continued.
“We’re in a much better position to recruit, to have top guys in every single department. I have the feeling that we’re really attractive as a project.
“Drivers are the same story. Kimi knows it will be difficult for us to better than P7 without an accident [for the top three teams].
“The motivation can come from somewhere else. The fact we’re improving, we’re growing up, we’re building something – I think it’s a huge feeling for all the team members, including drivers.”
The Sauber chief is also confident the impact of the new additions to the team will be felt more in 2019, allowing them to be even more competitive in the midfield.
“We recruited a lot since last year to improve on every single part of the company and it’s paying off,” he said.
“When we started to work at the end of ’17, people joined at the beginning of ’18 and some of them were working on the ’18 car.
“Some of them switched directly to this year’s car. It’s the first results of this recruitment. I hope it will get more and more.”
Michael Schumacher 'would be extremely p
Daniel Ricciardo claims Honda fears larg
Robert Kubica claims he is more like a '
UK motorsport chief & F1 teams consider
Mick Schumacher finally confirms joining
Opinion: Charles Leclerc can learn from
Honda identify an ability Mercedes & Fer
Sebastian Vettel could be next 'shock' F
Valtteri Bottas 'fully recharged' ahead
Daniel Ricciardo: Everyone in F1 knows N
Sergio Perez: Esteban Ocon's year as Mer
Max Verstappen heads into 2019 'ready to
Red Bull reveal why Sebastien Buemi was
Dakar 2019: Victories for Nasser Al-Atti
McLaren post partial glimpse of 2019 car
Toro Rosso willing to sacrifice 2019 sea
Ferrari target shakedown of 2019 F1 car
Renault now ready to 'attack' in quest f
Felipe Massa offers insight into his F1
Robert Kubica: Fernando Alonso's divisiv
Pierre Gasly has a message for Red Bull
Mercedes ties prevented Esteban Ocon fro
Lando Norris brushes off pressure of avo
Ferrari chairman rejects Maurizio Arriva
Early 2019 aero development saw 'big hit
Adrian Newey reinvigorated by Red Bull's
Niki Lauda released from hospital after
Mick Schumacher likely to test 2019 Ferr
Lewis Hamilton will finish his F1 career
Mercedes' Toto Wolff hints at Red Bull t
Daniel Ricciardo joining Renault a year
McLaren & Williams failing because of th
Sergio Perez reveals why he snubbed oppo
Stefano Domenicali linked with Ferrari r
Mercedes boss recalls 'amazing' first me
Max Verstappen now faster than Daniel Ri
Pirelli unfazed by 2021 F1 uncertainty b
McLaren taking measures to improve relia
Esteban Ocon issue simple 2020 F1 ultima
Toro Rosso's 2019 car the first to pass
Max Verstappen enjoys 'constructive' day
McLaren sure Fernando Alonso exit won't
Sergio Perez: Racing Point the best team
Haas still has to 'earn the respect' of
Carlos Sainz already looking for long-te
Formula 1 star Pierre Gasly to partner L
Vietnam's F1 circuit developed using fir
Hockenheim & Monza proved 'things weren'
Honda defiant over claims of setbacks wi
Daniel Ricciardo will boost Renault but
Mick Schumacher knows rushing to F1 woul
Nico Rosberg names one quality Hamilton
McLaren appoint ex-Porsche WEC chief And
Williams: Robert Kubica a 'proper driver
Canadian GP promoter excited by Stroll/P
Ross Brawn: McLaren & Williams 'great te
Michael Schumacher pushed Mercedes to go
Esteban Ocon tips Racing Point to close
Mattia Binotto must deliver championship
Toro Rosso's Franz Tost has simple cure
UPDATED: Pneumonia not the cause for Nik
Sauber set their target after 'pushing l
Romain Grosjean: Haas 'scaring' Renault
Charles Leclerc a future star but 2019 n
Is the opposition to Hamilton/Schumacher
Sebastian Vettel plays down loss of deve
Charles Leclerc responds to Hamilton nam
Honda bringing Red Bull 'in the region'
Renault obliged to prevent Daniel Riccia
Ferrari confirm Maurizio Arrivabene's de
Valtteri Bottas sees positive outlook fo
Haas wary of 2019 F1 regulations but Wil
Ross Brawn admits growing 'impatience' a
Mercedes hoping potential to match Ferra
Sauber considering shakedown of 2019 car
McLaren sure Liberty will address rise o
Arrivabene out, Binotto promoted to team
Niki Lauda back in hospital after contra
Honda facing two significant problems ah
Williams chief Lowe reveals Ross Brawn's
Mercedes tells Valtteri Bottas what is r
Honda sees great benefit from increased
Lawrence Stroll reveals main reason for
Robert Kubica admits saying no to Ferrar
Nico Hulkenberg: The key area Ricciardo
Kimi Raikkonen not making Sauber predict
Lewis Hamilton never asked for Sochi tea
George Russell: The McLaren decision tha
Jean-Eric Vergne offers his prediction o
McLaren call on Liberty to ignore opposi
Daniel Ricciardo: Verstappen set for 'gr
Michael Schumacher a 'founding father' o
McLaren won't jump to early conclusions
Robert Kubica puts expectations in check
Michael Schumacher's ex-manager explains
Barrichello: The trait Charles Leclerc m
Michael Schumacher's family reassure fan
Wolff: How 2016 tension led to current H
Kevin Magnussen considers Grosjean his f
Five things to get excited about in F1 2