Are Sauber on the verge of a big Formula 1 breakthrough?
Peter Sauber's battle-hardened Swiss team had always had a reputation for producing well-engineered, reliable cars but in 2012 they showed they could build very competitive ones too, with the veteran team owner describing the C31 as "the best car we have had since entering F1".
Of course, running near the front of the field wasn't a completely new experience for the Hinwil team which after all won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix and finished second in the 2007 Constructors' Championship when bankrolled by German car giants BMW.
As an independent entity, which it was originally was from 1993-2005 and again since 2010, podium finishes, let alone the prospect of challenging for race victories, were considered a distant dream. Yet last season Sauber finished in the top three on four occasions and arguably should have won the Malaysian GP.
While Sergio Perez's more heroic performances in 2012 impressed McLaren enough for them to sign him as Lewis Hamilton's successor, Sauber haven't fared too badly in the driver transfer market themselves by luring the very highly-regarded, and perhaps more consistent, Nico Hulkenberg from rivals Force India. The German is paired with another promising young Mexican in the form of Esteban Gutierrez.
Hulkenberg has said he feels he has joined a team firmly in the ascendency, which is quite a compliment for Sauber given that they were staring down the barrel just three years ago when BMW abruptly pulled the plug on their F1 involvement. That cued the return of Peter Sauber, who at 66 years of age was forced to put his retirement on hold and unexpectedly step back in to the breach to save his life's work.
Although money was initially tight and the start of the 2010 season something of a nightmare results and reliability-wise, the arrival of James Key as Technical Director saw the team make steady strides back towards respectability and eighth place in the standings was followed by seventh in 2011.
Although Key then left Hinwil on the eve of the 2012 campaign, the C31 car he had overseen swiftly showed itself to be a gem - especially in race conditions - when Perez finished a close second to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the rain at Sepang.
Further podiums for the Mexican followed in Canada and Monza while team-mate Kamui Kobayashi then stepped up himself to take an emotional rostrum finish on home soil in Japan, although it wasn't enough to save the fan favourite's seat for 2013.
While their season did slightly trail off thereafter, Sauber still came mightily close to beating Mercedes to fifth place in the constructors' standings and with the affable and very capable Monisha Kaltenborn - F1's first female Team Principal - now in day-to-day control at Hinwil, hopes are high that 2013 will prove even more fruitful.