Tag Archives: Sauber

Sauber C32 unveiled

Sauber are the fifth team to show off the 2013 challenger, called the C32.

The car was shown off via online stream, with the team taking the covers off the C32 in their Hinwil base. The most notable change is that of the livery, which changes to 90% grey instead of white and grey.

The stepped nose is covered by the vanity panel as expected, and it is believed that the C32 runs pushrod suspension.

More details will be added soon.

Perez states that Esteban Gutierrez will join Sauber in 2013

Sauber driver Sergio Perez has jumped the gun on his team’s driver announcement for 2013 this weekend, and let slip that Esteban Gutierrez is set to be signed for the team for next year.

Before this weekend, Sauber had confirmed that they would make their driver announcement after the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

However, in the driver’s press conference today, Perez noted that “the team have a good experienced driver in Nico [Hulkenberg] and he will have a strong team-mate in Esteban [Gutierrez].”

He then stated: “we are waiting for the announcement”.

Gutierrez has already driven for Sauber this year, taking the place of Perez in Friday practice in India. He has previously won GP3 and Formula BMW Europe championships, and took 3rd this year in the GP2 series with ART.

Nico Hulkenberg to join Sauber in 2013

After the departure of Sergio Perez to McLaren, the Sauber team have confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg is to join the squad in 2013.

This is the third team that Hulkenberg will race for within three years of Grand Prix racing. He was ditched by Williams after the 2010 season in place for a pay driver, then spent a year in the wilderness, as reserve driver for Force India. He moved up to second driver for the team in 2012.

The highlight of Hulkenberg’s career so far has been his shock pole position in Brazil 2010. He was upped his game in the second half of this season, with a 4th placed finish in Belgium, and three points-scoring finishes in a row up to and including India.

The young German has signed a 1-year contract with the team. Sauber stated that they would confirm Hulkenberg’s teammate at a later stage.

This move has intensified the battle for the second Sauber drive. Kamui Kobayashi’s position is under serious threat, with Robert Frijns , Jules Bianchi, Jaime Alguersuari and Adrian Sutil all gunning for a place on the grid next year.

Belgian GP practice: Kobayashi heads soaked Friday running

Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest time on Friday in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.

It was completely academic though, as persistent heavy rain resulted in both practice sessions becoming a complete washout. The rain got worse and worse as the afternoon progressed, and there was even less activity in FP2.

Practice 1

Kobayashi was the only driver to go out on track in the first 45 minutes, setting a 2:17.705. Steady rain deterred drivers from heading out until the final half hour.

When the track finally did allow for some running, it was barely an improvement. Daniel Ricciardo and Pastor Maldonado both briefly took the top spot, but Kobayashi was soon back on top with a 2:11.389.

The Eau Rouge corner was particularly tricky to navigate, with Michael Schumacher, Pastor Maldonado and Paul di Resta all nearly losing control through the saturated turn.

In a surprise event in modern F1, Felipe Massa suffered an engine failure on his final lap, pulling over at the Bus Stop chicane with smoke pouring out of his Ferrari’s exhausts.

Pos. Driver              Team                  Time       Gap     Laps
 1.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        2:11.389          20
 2.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault      2:11.941  +0.552  14
 3.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    2:12.004  +0.615  12
 4.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    2:12.824  +1.435  15
 5.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      2:13.191  +1.802  13
 6.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        2:13.861  +2.472  16
 7.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes AMG          2:14.210  +2.821  14
 8.  Valtteri Bottas     Williams-Renault      2:14.660  +3.271  16
 9.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      2:14.860  +3.471  12
10.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes AMG          2:15.402  +4.013  13
11.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  2:15.812  +4.423  11
12.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth     2:16.409  +5.020  16
13.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  2:16.786  +5.397  10
14.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault      2:16.788  +5.399  16
15.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      2:16.827  +5.438  5
16.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      2:16.861  +5.472  8
17.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth     2:17.519  +6.130  14
18.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault      2:18.199  +6.810  10
19.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth          2:19.546  +8.157  12
20.  Dani Clos           HRT-Cosworth          2:19.689  +8.300  12
21.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus-Renault         2:38.701  +27.312 9
22.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               2:40.749  +29.360 4
23.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault         2:46.580  +35.191 9
24.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               N/A        N/A     2

Practice 2

FP2 was even worse, with the rain becoming more heavy and persistent as the session went on.

It took 50 minutes for a car to even leave the pits, with Nico Rosberg leading several other drivers. However, not a single one set a fast lap, opting to pit every time.

This continued until the end of the session, where most drivers went out to do a practice start on the pit straight.

Perez penalised for impeding Raikkonen and Alonso

Sergio Perez will drop 5 places on the grid for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.

The Sauber driver was found to have impeded both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso during Q2. He finished the session 12th, but will now drop down to 17th position for the race.

The stewards stated that the penalty was imposed “due to the driver being involved in two similar offences in the same session.” After the incident with Raikkonen, the Lotus driver complained to his team over the pit radio.

Perez is the fourth driver to suffer a grid penalty this weekend. The other three are Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean, all for unscheduled gearbox changes to their cars.

 

Monaco GP analysis: Historic season can only get even better

With 6 different winners in 6 different races, we have never before seen such a varied an unpredictable grid. Every race, there are 7 or 8 drivers in with a chance of winning, and nearly as many are in the battle for the championship.

This time last year, we were already becoming certain who was running away with the title. In 2012 however, there is no doubt that it is shaping up to be one of the closest seasons in history.

Heroes to zeroes, and vice-versa

For Felipe Massa, criticism is due where it’s due, but praise equally so. Under massive pressure from the Scuderia after a dismal start, the Brazilian impressed by keeping Fernando Alonso honest on the streets of Monaco.

His pace may have been complimented by Alonso’s conservative driving, but it is still a massive improvement from what we have seen so far.

It’s clear what Ferrari want from him – good, but not great, performances. A driver who can pick up points where Alonso slips, but is otherwise content to finish 5th or 6th. A few more races like Monaco, and Felipe’s season will be back on track.

Pastor Maldonado, meanwhile, has completely wiped out his form from Spain. A thug-like swipe at Sergio Perez in practice left him near the back of the grid, then the Williams driver punted Pedro de la Rosa at the start, ending his race.

It’s hard to imagine that the same driver took the top step of the podium only two weeks ago.

Reputation is a fragile thing in Formula 1, and Pastor may have gone and thrown his away with a single burst of anger. Like the BBC F1 crew commented, to use your car as a weapon is nothing less than disgraceful. After years of safety campaigning, the FIA has thrown it away by allowing such reckless behaviour to go on.

McLaren continue to throw away valuable points

Yet another shocking race for the McLaren team

Yet another shocking race for the McLaren team

Only a quarter of the way into the season, and it is clear that even single points are precious for the frontrunners. With a single race win covering the top 5, the title race could go to the wire.

In such circumstances, McLaren’s dismal form makes them stand out even more. Starting the season with one of the fastest cars, repeated mistakes and slip-ups have cost the team in nearly every race.

Monaco was no exception – Lewis Hamilton was livid after his team lost him a place in the pit stops. He was not informed of Sebastian Vettel’s searing pace up front, and subsequently dropped behind the Red Bull. He claimed afterwards that he could have pushed and stayed ahead, if he was told the information.

He has gone on and stated: “We haven’t had a grand prix weekend where something hasn’t gone wrong” which pretty much sums it up for McLaren.

While Jenson Button’s failures this weekend were largely his fault, Hamilton was frustrated by everything around him, and suffered as a result. It’s so early into the season, and the title may already be slipping away.

Meanwhile, at Sauber…

Just another normal start for Kamui Kobayashi

Just another normal start for Kamui Kobayashi

At the start of the Monaco GP, replays showed Kamui Kobayashi having a more frenzied start than usual. After being clipped by a flailing Romain Grosjean, the Sauber was launched into the air, before bouncing back onto the tarmac, nearly knocking Jenson Button into the barriers in the process.

The replays made it seem spectacular, but the photo attached even more so. That alone was why this extra section was added!

F1 2012 season opener preview

There’s only a few days to go until the Formula 1 season kicks off again – the off-season really does fly by.

But there’s no time to waste. With everyone gearing up for a much closer title fight this year, it’s time to take one last glance at the pack, and try to predict how the teams will fare in Melbourne:

Red Bull

Red Bull may well battle with McLaren for 2012

Red Bull may well battle with McLaren for 2012

Nobody can deny that Red Bull will be at the front this year – it’s almost a given.

However, that’s not to say that the Adrian Newey-designed RB8 will run away with the title again. The ban on exhaust-blown diffusers has cut their advantage to the other teams, and further restrictions on front wing flexibility put them under greater pressure over the winter.

Sebastian Vettel is still the team #1 after back-to-back world titles. While Mark Webber is gearing up to challenge his teammate, I don’t think the Australian is up to the challenge. The best indicator of Webber’s performance will be in Australia, where Mark has never finished higher than 5th. If he can break his streak of bad luck, then he may be in with a chance.

Still, I predict a Vettel pole position in Australia – after that nobody can be certain.

McLaren

The MP4-27 may well being McLaren back to winning ways

The MP4-27 may well being McLaren back to winning ways

Pre-season testing has indicated that the Woking squad are back in top form in 2012.

However, they have a mighty challenger in the form of Red Bull. Both teams have tested out radical innovations on their cars, and it is still unclear who possesses the faster car. While Red Bull appear to have good qualifying pace, McLaren have performed well in long-fuel runs, similar to the 2011 season.

Lewis Hamilton’s well-publicised problems from 2011 appear to be behind him. The Brit has admitted he spent many nights partying during the 2011 season, which may well explain his loss of focus. There’s no doubt that Lewis is a fantastically talented driver, but there is also no excuse for underperforming in 2012.

His teammate, Jenson Button, will be looking to capitalise on a relatively successful 2011 season, and is hoping to beat Lewis again. However, if Hamilton has tackled his personal issues, then there may well be a brilliantly tight battle between the two this year.

Ferrari

Ferrari are yet to understand their F2012

Ferrari are yet to understand their F2012

While the front two teams have already established themselves as title contenders before the season opener, Ferrari are still unsure as to their pace. How they react to their radical F2012 will be fascinating.

Fernando Alonso will continue to push the team – and the car – to the limits, and there is little doubt that Felipe Massa will be left trailing behind. Ferrari have a perfect team leader in Alonso, and Felipe’s #1 spot at the team (inherited in 2007) has been well and truly taken away from him.

With such a differing driver line-up, the constructor’s title is already out of reach for Ferrari. However, depending on how Ferrari react to developing their F2012, Alonso may challenge for the driver’s title later on.

Mercedes

Mercedes will be looking to challenge the top 3

Mercedes will be looking to challenge the top 3

If Ferrari even stumble, Mercedes appear poised to snatch 3rd place in the constructor’s table from them.

After two disappointing years following the Brawn GP fairytale, things appear to be coming together for Mercedes. Team principal Ross Brawn has assembled some of the sport’s finest engineers to work on the W03, which showed good pace in pre-season testing.

Despite his age, Michael Schumacher may still be a force to be reckoned with. Nico Rosberg meanwhile will be looking to take his first ever race victory – compared to Michael’s colossal 91 wins.

It is unlikely that the team can challenge for the titles this year, but nobody can fully rule them out. Starting the season at the front is absolutely crucial.

Lotus

Lotus will be looking to establish themselves

Lotus will be looking to establish themselves

With a new name and new driver line-up, Lotus are the midfield team to keep an eye out for.

The Enstone squad have one of the most exciting driver combinations on the grid – a former world champion and current GP2 title holder. It is more than likely that Kimi Raikkonen will assert himself as #1 in the team, but Romain Grosjean may well keep him on his toes.

What’s of more importance to the team is moving up the grid. After the frontal-exhaust disaster last year, the E20 appears to be much faster and more reliable, despite the chassis issue that ruled the team out of 4 testing days.

Like Mercedes, they are unlikely to make a massive jump up the grid, but I would be very surprised if Lotus were to finish any lower than 5th.

Force India

Force India are looking to stay on top of the midfield

Force India are looking to stay on top of the midfield

Lotus aren’t the only team looking to make progress in 2011. After several impressive performances last year, Force India will be looking to push their way to the top of the midfield.

Adrian Sutil has been ditched after 5 years of faithful service, and his F1 career appears to be over. He has been replaced by Nico Hulkenberg, who gets another shot in F1 after a good 2010 campaign with Williams.

The team have recently received a $32m cash injection from owner Vijay Mallya, so finances aren’t an issue. What the team want is a progressively faster car than last year – the VJM05 appears to be delivering so far.

Alongside Paul di Resta, this is another exciting driver line-up. This battle is much more difficult to call, but I think Di Resta will stay just on top.

Sauber

Sauber may struggle in 2012

Sauber may struggle in 2012

Another midfield team looking to make progress, Sauber may find themselves squeezed out this year.

While their driver line-up of Kobayashi and Perez is an impressive one, I fear the team has not kept up with the development of the rest of the grid. The team saw a massive slide in pace during the second half of 2011, and the loss of James Key was a massive blow.

With teams like Force India and Lotus looking to move up the grid, there may be no improvement from Sauber in 2012.

Toro Rosso

Ricciardo and Vergne will battle it out at Toro Rosso

Ricciardo and Vergne will battle it out at Toro Rosso

The latest batch of Sebastian Vettel wannabes are in, and look set to provide an exciting battle for 2012.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo are in, ousting Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, who had well and truly overstayed their welcome. With little to no F1 experience (several races for HRT doesn’t do much for Ricciardo), we have no idea who will end up on top.

The STR7 looks solid, but doesn’t seem to be pushing the team up the order. Most of the focus this year will be on the driver pairing, to see can either of them join Vettel at Red Bull.

Williams

Williams look set for another dismal season

Williams look set for another dismal season

After a dismal 2011 season, it appears unlikely that Williams will recover this season.

The Fw34 has been disappointing in testing, frequently ending up at the back of the pack. Bruno Senna brings a fresh face to the team, but Pastor Maldonado stays on, and frequent readers of this site know how I feel about him.

They may prove me wrong, but I see little improvement for Williams this year.

Caterham

Caterham must make progress in 2012

Caterham must make progress in 2012

After two years stranded in F1’s no-man’s-land, Caterham will be looking to push forward and join the midfield.

Failure is not an option for this team – they have spent way too much money to continue to fall behind teams like Williams and Sauber. Unlike HRT and Marussia, Caterham invested financially according to where they thought they would finish in several years, not where they would end up in the beginning. Banking their future on FIA payouts is risky, but it’s been done in F1 before.

Vitaly Petrov replaces the direly slow Jarno Trulli, and may give Heikki Kovalainen a run for his money.

HRT

Another season at the back for HRT - but that's all that's needed

Another season at the back for HRT - but that's all that's needed

After finally turning a wheel before the opening race for the first time in their history, HRT have made ever so slight progress towards stability – albeit at the back of the grid.

With the oldest driver line-up on the grid, the team will be sorely lacking in pace. However, the most important thing for the team is that they stay afloat – many new teams collapse within the first two years, particularly back in the 1990s.

A neat livery may gain them some fans, but otherwise it’s business as usual at the back of the pack. They may struggle to reach the 107% rule in the opening rounds.

Marussia

Marussia will be looking to beat HRT

Marussia will be looking to beat HRT

After finishing last yet again, Marussia will be looking to pull themselves ahead of HRT in the standings in 2012.

Rookie Charles Pic will find it most difficult, having little to no experience of the MR01 before Melbourne. I would be surprised if he were to survive the 107% chop in Q1.

Timo Glock, after proving his worth against all his teammates so far, deserves better than to be languishing in 23rd place all year, and the future of the team may well rest in his hands. No pressure, of course.

 

Of course, all of these predictions could fly out the window by the first corner in Melbourne! Either way, it’s looking set to be another fantastic season of Formula 1. I’ll be here to cover it every step of the way.

Barcelona testing day 3: Perez leads rain-affected session

Perez headed the timesheets in Barcelona

Perez headed the timesheets in Barcelona

Sergio Perez was fastest on the second-last day of testing in Barcelona.

The Mexican set the fastest time in the morning, edging out Jenson Button by 0.009 seconds. During the afternoon, rain began to fall, meaning that Perez’s time of 1:22.094 would stand as the fastest. Nearing the end of the day, there was reports of hail at Turn 1.

As opposed to the top two’s soft tyres, Daniel Ricciardo set his fastest lap on super-soft tyres en route to 3rd place.

Felipe Massa was 4th for Ferrari. The Italian squad raised eyebrows today after announcing that their drivers will not be talking to the media at any point during the weekend. The team’s Twitter account claimed that “The decision has been taken to keep the whole team fully focused on the job and there is not any polemic [controversial] intent behind it.”

Red Bull were the team to watch today, testing a heavily revised RB8 featuring a new exhaust layout. Mechanics were seen swarming around the car once it entered the pits, to block any photos of the new layout. Mark Webber was half a second off Perez with the updated car.

The front 9 drivers were separated by 0.8 seconds. Only Kimi Raikkonen was drastically off the pace, struggling with his steering in the morning, and setting only 43 laps across the entire day.

Meanwhile, HRT have confirmed that they will not be appearing at the final testing day tomorrow. The team still hopes to turn a wheel before Melbourne though, by doing a filming day next Monday.

Times from Barcelona day 3:

1.  Sergio Perez        Sauber C31          1:22.094   13  Laps
2.  Jenson Button       McLaren MP4-27      1:22.126   44  Laps    +0.009
3.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso STR7     1:22.361   131 Laps    +0.061
4.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari F2012       1:22.447   122 Laps    +0.319
5.  Paul di Resta       Force India VJM05   1:22.828   108 Laps    +0.352
6.  Bruno Senna         Williams FW34       1:22.836   111 Laps    +0.386
7.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham CT01       1:22.893   64  Laps    +0.536
8.  Mark Webber         Red Bull RB8        1:22.978   70  Laps    +0.568
9.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes W03        1:22.932   129 Laps    +0.838
10. Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus E20           1:25.379   43  Laps    +3.285

Barcelona testing day 4: Kobayashi ends test on top

Kobayashi was the eighth driver to be fastest in testing so far

Kobayashi was the eighth driver to be fastest in testing so far

Kamui Kobayashi finished the third test session of 2012 on top of the timesheets.

While the Sauber C31 was delayed by a broken exhaust, the Japanese driver set a 1:22.312, ahead of Pastor Maldonado. Kamui is the eighth driver in 8 testing days to be on top, following Kimi Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado.

He also set 144 laps – the most of any driver so far. Pastor Maldonado set 134 laps and finished 2nd.Paul di Resta went wide at Campsa corner during the day, but recovered to be classified 3rd.

Ferrari focused on making large setup changes to their F2012, and Felipe Massa finished 5th, just behind Jenson Button in 4th.

Two of the slowest teams on the grid suffered the most technical-related woe. Caterham were forced to make an engine change to Heikki Kovalainen’s car limiting him to 70 laps. Meanwhile, Marussia were forced to call off their testing altogether, after suspension damage on Charles Pic’s car couldn’t be repaired.

The final 4-day test will begin on March 1st in Barcelona. Red Bull and Ferrari will arrive to this session one day late, but will continue their running until the 5th.

Times from Barcelona day 4:

1.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber C31          1:22.312   144 Laps
2.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams FW34       1:22.561   134 Laps    +0.249
3.  Paul di Resta       Force India VJM05   1:23.119   101 Laps    +0.807
4.  Jenson Button       McLaren MP4-27      1:23.200   115 Laps    +0.888
5.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari F2012       1:23.563   103 Laps    +1.251
6.  Mark Webber         Red Bull RB8        1:23.774   85  Laps    +1.462
7.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso STR7     1:23.792   92  Laps    +1.480
8.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes W03        1:23.843   139 Laps    +1.531
9.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham CT-01      1:26.968   70  Laps    +4.656

First pictures of Sauber C31

Sauber have shown off their 2012 C31

Sauber have shown off their 2012 C31

Along with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, Sauber have released their 2012 car, the C31, today.

Just days ago, technical director James Key announced that he would be leaving the squad, posting a massive blow before the season has even started.

Regardless, the C31 has been described as “revolutionary where we had fresh ideas” by chief designer Matt Morris. He also stated that he believes that the exhaust blown diffuser ban will help the team:

"Because of the new definition in the rules we know that the disadvantages we had 
last year with a lack of the strong exhaust effect will be less of an issue for 
us now. As a result we evolved further our directions from C30 regarding the 
overall aero development of the car."
Side view of the Sauber C31

Side view of the Sauber C31

He also noted that the car will appear quite different at the first race in Melbourne, as more updates are added to the car.

Similar to last year, the car will be driven by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

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