Tag Archives: Sauber

Sauber C30 released

Sauber's new C30

Sauber's new C30

Sauber are the second team today to show off their 2011 car, the C30. With this model, the team say they are hoping for regular points finishes.

Sauber's new C30

Sauber's new C30

It is Sauber’s first car designed by James Key, the man who turned around their 2010 season after moving from Force India.

As expected, it was shown off by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez. They have also ditched the shark fin engine cover, and the C30 also featured revised sideboards and nose cone.

As for the livery, the new logos thrown on make it the worst looking car so far of 2011. Unfortunately, Peter Sauber has stated that he liked last year’s design, so expect this livery to stick around for some time.

Sergio Perez signed by Sauber for 2011, Telmex confirmed as sponsor

Sauber have announced today that Mexican racing driver Sergio Perez will drive for the team for the 2011 season. He will partner Kamui Kobayashi, meaning that Nick Heidfeld will not be retained for next season.

Sergio Perez has been signed by Sauber for 2011

Sergio Perez has been signed by Sauber for 2011

The second seat at Sauber has been shuffled around recently. It was held by Pedro de la Rosa until before the Singapore Grand Prix, until poor performances and failing to keep up with Kamui Kobayashi meant he has been replaced for the rest of the season by Nick Heidfeld. However, today’s announcement means that Heidfeld will be looking for a drive elsewhere for 2011.

Perez is racing in GP2, and is in second place behind Pastor Maldonado, who has already won the championship. Previously, he won the National Class in British Formula 3 of 2007, and was 4th in British F3 the following year. However, it isn’t just his racing talent that has caught Peter Sauber’s eye.

Sauber also announced a new sponsor for the team, Telmex, which is run by Carlos Slim Helu (world’s richest man of 2010). However, Carlos Slim also runs Escuderia Telmex, which sponsors and supports upcoming drivers. As you can probably guess, Perez just so happens to be sponsored by Escuderia Telmex.

The last Mexican Formula 1 driver was Hector Rebaque, back in 1981, so it will be very interesting to see how Perez gets on. In my opinion, he looks like a good talent, with a mixture of racing ability and of course the backing to get to the top.

Nick Heidfeld to replace de la Rosa at Sauber

Nick Heidfeld has joined Sauber for the rest of the year

Nick Heidfeld has joined Sauber for the rest of the year

It has been confirmed today that Nick Heidfeld will replace Pedro de la Rosa at the Sauber team for the final 5 races of the season. De la Rosa has been struggling for pace in comparison to team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, and Heidfeld has been freed of his reserve driver role at Mercedes because of his Pirelli tyre testing duties.

Nick returns to the team he drove for from 2001 to 2003, and 2006 to 2009, where he has made 120 race appearances. His many years of racing experience, combined with his extensive knowledge of next year’s Pirelli tyres, have encouraged the Sauber team to take him on for the rest of the year. Peter Sauber said:

"It was a hard decision for me to make as a team principal and I 
want to thank Pedro for his professionalism. By signing Nick we 
have a driver we know extremely well who will help us to further 
judge the comparative potential of our car."

Heidfeld said this on the signing:

"I’m looking forward like crazy to having the opportunity to go 
racing again in a good car in Formula One from the Singapore 
Grand Prix onwards.

After the last months I’m even more motivated than ever. For 
me it is like coming home, as I raced for seven years in total 
for the team from Hinwil. Without doubt I will be feeling at 
home straight away and this should help me to familiarise myself 
as soon as possible with the car. I want to thank Peter Sauber 
for the faith he has put in me."

While I’m very happy that one of the most under-rated drivers on the grid has got a race seat again, we have to remember that Sauber will have been influenced by Heidfeld’s knowledge of the Pirelli tyre. At the moment, Sauber seem to have some of the best tyre conservation rates on the grid, and Nick will be able to help the team exploit the extra grip available to them through next year’s tyre switch.

As for Pedro, it’s disappointing to say, but he didn’t perform well enough. You could certainly argue the retirement rate (one-third of all races this year) has severely damaged his chances, but the fact of the matter is that Kamui Kobayashi completely out-classed him, and Sauber are in need of more impreovement. Overall, a good call by the Sauber team, and good news for Heidfeld.

Kobayashi retained by Sauber for 2011

Sauber have today announced that they are to retain Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi for the 2011 season. The 24-year-old has been the driving force of Sauber’s 2010 campaign so far, and is probably the best rookie of the season as well.

In his 15 Grands Prix, he has scored 24 points already. Peter Sauber explains why he has been impressed with Kobayashi:

"We enjoy having our rookie as part of the team - both as a 
driver and a person.

We never had any doubts about working with him again in 2011.

Kamui has definitely fulfilled our expectations in terms 
of his speed and fighting spirit. Plus, his work with the 
engineers and his technical understanding has also developed 
very well.

The experience he has built up over his first full season in 
Formula One will certainly stand him in good stead for 2011. 
And our aim is to give him a fast and reliable car from the 
outset next season."

After a dire start to the season, Kamui has got 5 points-scoring finishes so far, with his most impressive ones being in Silverstone, Valencia and Belgium.

I’ve been very impressed with his performances so far, but less so about Pedro de la Rosa. The Spaniard has been struggling for pace in comparison to Kamui, and the team are refusing to state whether he will keep his seat next year until a later date.

Kobayashi hit with 5-place grid penalty

Kamui Kobayashi has suffered another setback to his Hungarian Grand Prix drive, with the news that he has received a 5-place grid penalty for ignoring a red light at the end of the pit lane. The red light was for the FIA scrutineering garage, but Kamui went straight on into the Sauber garage.

This means that the Japanese driver will drop from 18th to 23rd on the grid, in between the two Hispania drivers. This means that the back row will be both Japanese drivers, with Sakon Yamamoto in 24th place (again).

Meanwhile, Pedro de la Rosa, fellow Sauber driver, will start from 9th on the grid, with a chance at his first points of the year.

2010 Mid-season review: Sauber

In pre-season testing, the outlook was exceptionally good for Sauber. While their new livery left much to be desired, their times were just behind the top 4, and their tyre wear data showed that they were managing their tyres extremely well. This all pointed towards Sauber being a surprise package for 2010, or so we though. Regardless of progress since, Sauber are the lowest out of the points-scoring teams, and have suffered dire reliabilty so far.

Progress or not, Sauber's reliability has held them back all season

Progress or not, Sauber's reliability has held them back all season

After 9 races, the team hold only 7 points, all of which have been earned by the “lunatic” Kobayashi. Worse than this, the team have a horrific level of DNFs, with 11 so far, and 1 DNS (Did Not Start), when Pedro de la Rosa’s car couldn’t even make it to the grid in Malaysia. In fact, the team didn’t get a point until Round 7 in Turkey, when Kobayashi earned a solitary point. He has had one top 10 finish since then, when he drove magnificently after a clever strategy in Valencia to finish 7th, after running 2nd for most of the race.

However, Kamui can only produce the goods when he is given the opportunity, and in the C29, that is exceedingly rare. The finger of blame should be pointing squarely at the Ferrari engines, which have failed countlessly, are poor in terms of fuel consumption, and, at the end of the day, lack in power.

Pedro de la Rosa shouldn’t be excluded either, as he has performed very consistently when the car allows, finishing 11th once and 12th 2 times, with the rest being retirements. In fact, between the two of these drivers, their worst finishing position each has been 12th, which isn’t too shabby considering their lack of pace. Also, Kobayashi has only finished a race outisde of the points once.

But, at the end of the day, reliability is the key to unlocking Sauber’s potential. The only was this can be achieved is by switching engine suppliers at the end of the year, most likely Renault. This would allow the car to run less fuel (Renault engine has the best fuel consumption on the grid), which would allow them to manage their tyres even better. Also, by finishing more races, consistent points finishes could well be a target for Sauber by next season.

Can James Key transform Sauber’s season?

In the first 3 races, Sauber have got 4 retirements and scored no points

In the first 3 races, Sauber have got 4 retirements and scored no points

If the results from testing were to be carried into the races, then Sauber would be title contenders, thanks to their seemingly fast pace and excellent tyre managment. But, so far, things have not gone well for the Himwil-based team. They have had no points in 3 races, and 4 retirements. Because of this, James Key will take over from Willy Rampf as Technical Director.

Key is not to be underestimated. He has spent 13 years with Force India in their various forms (Jordan, Midland/MF1, Spyker and Force India). In those years, he was a Data Engineer, Race Engineer for Takuma Sato, wind tunnel worker, department head, and then technical director. Though he was one of the youngest Technical Directors in F1, he has proven himself, which is why he has been picked to replace Willy Rampf.

So far, Sauber has had a terrible start, with only one race finish between the two drivers. Many people have wondered why, after starting 2010 development so early last year, they are now struggling at the back. Peter Sauber has explained the difficulties:

We’re experiencing a new beginning as a team and are in the process 
of adapting from a works outfit to an independent team. We’ve cut 
our budget by 40 per cent and reduced the workforce by a third. 
That’s a massive cutback. However, this economisation process is 
something all the other established teams still have ahead of them 
as a result of the restrictions imposed by FOTA.

With these sort of huge cutbacks, the team have a large hill to climb. But, if anyone can do it, i’m sure Key can. However, he has a lot of work to do. Since he has recently transferred from Force India, (he left there about a month ago) he hasn’t been to a race this year, nor has he even seen the Sauber C29. But, he is already hard at work, having been at the factory, and will be having meetings with Willy Rampf to get him used to the car.

I don’t think any of them are looking at the Chinese GP as a turn-around point. The next race, in Spain, will be much more important, as this is the first race in Europe, and most of the teams will be bringing large updates to their cars here. If Key is to transform Sauber’s season, then the Spanish Grand Prix will be the place.

Large advantage to Sauber because of tyre managment

Sauber's biggest advantage could well be in their tyre managment

Sauber's biggest advantage could well be in their tyre managment

Only an hour ago, I was talking about how tyre managment was going to be a serious issue in Bahrain. Now, Bridgestone claim that Sauber could well be a thorn in the side of the “big four” teams, because they are so good at managing their tyres.

Sauber were already showing great pace in pre-season testing, and now news has been released saying that the team suffers less tyre degradation than Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren. Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone’s director of motorsport tyre development, says that Sauber is different to the other teams:

"We have compared many teams' data and looking at the quick [four]
teams – their degradation tendency is very, very similar. Once they
have the 150kg start weight, with both the medium and soft compound,
then there is little difference – so we could expect a very close
pace. However, Sauber is more consistent."

There are two tactical advantages that Sauber can take from this. The first is more obvious, in that they can use the softer compund of tyres for longer distances than anyone else, and get a huge boost from this. In Bahrain, it is well known that the medium tyre is much worse than the super-soft, so Sauber can now benefit by being on the super-softs for longer without having to pit early.

The second is made in qualifying. In 2010, there is a new rule stating that the top 10 cars have to start the race with the tyres they set their fastest Q3 lap on. This will mean a mix of teams running the medium, who will be slower but will last longer into the race, or teams who run the super-soft, qualify well, andn then are forced to pit early. Now though, Sauber can confidently qualify with the super-soft tyre, and still be able to run a long distance with them. By my figuring, the optimum strategy for them would be to run the super-soft tyres for the first two stints, then the medium for the last stint. This would mean that they can keep up in terms of performance, and still run longer on better managed tyres.

BMW Sauber’s technical chief Willy Rampf has acknowledged that their tyre managment is one of their strong points:

"The car doesn't have any stability problems, and its performance 
and balance on high fuel loads is a strong point. We will build on 
this – it's a very good thing. Our car is not too heavy on its tyres, 
so we can do reasonable long stints without killing them.

That will help keep the strategies more flexible, if you're not 
forced to stop by tyre wear."

Last year, if you remember, Jenson Button won in Monaco, primarily because he was so good at managing the softer tyre, which degraded too quickly for the other teams and drivers, most notably Sebastian Vettel. This same scenario may well happen again in 2010.

20th February- Testing results: Button on top in final day at Jerez

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

The Jerez testing fortnight finally ended today. Note the “finally”, because the teams must have been completely exasperated by the horrible weather conditons we have had over the last 2 weeks. Nevertheless, Jenson Button finished the test on a high, as he topped the timesheets today.

The Briton’s time of 1.18.871 was the fastest of the entire testing fortnight,  ahead of Robert Kubica (1.19.114) and Kamui Kobayashi (1.19.188). The weather was excellent today, as shown by the fact that the 3 fastest times of the last 2 weeks were set today. Most of these fast laps were set in the morning, as everyone switched to heavy fuel running in the afternoon.

Unlike the other days, we didn’t have scrambling of strategies to suit the conditionsm as the teams focused mostly on long fuel runs. Therefore, we didn’t see as much action as we have over the last few days. However, one of the main causes of concern was for Mark Webber, who suffered a serious mechanical problem. This has not been explained yet by Red Bull, but his engine was changed as a precautionary measure. Also, the only other red flag today was for Timo Glock, who stopped after another hydraulic problem for the Virgin car.

In fact, before the problem, he was really on the pace, lapping the same as the rest of the midfield, before the hydraulic gremlins showed up again after only 28 laps. Jarno Trulli and the Lotus team fared much better. Although their best lap was 1 second slower than Glock, they managed 141 laps in total, the highest of any driver today.

The rest of the paddock all were as solid as Lotus. Jaime Alguersuari got in 139 laps, followed closely by Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso (137). Nico Rosberg got 130 laps, while Kubica and Kobayashi managed 117. Otherwise, Button got 108, Webber got 87 and Liuzzi got 80. Over the last 4 days, Nico Hulkenberg has got the most mileage in, with a mammoth 275 laps.

Statistics from the entire test will be up soon.

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.18.871 108
2. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.19.114 +0.243 117
3. K. Kobayashi Sauber C29 1.19.188 +0.317 117
4. A. Liuzzi F. India VJM03 1.19.650 +0.799 80
5. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.20.061 +1.190 130
6. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.436 +1.565 137
7. J. Alguersuari T. Rosso STR5 1.21.053 +2.182 139
8.9.

10.

11.

M. Webber

N. Hulkenberg

T. Glock

J. Trulli

Red Bull

Williams

Virgin

Lotus

RB6

FW32

VR-01

T127

1.21.194

1.21.919

1.22.433

1.23.470

+2.323

+3.048

+3.562

+4.599

87

137

28

141

Pictures from the test:

18th February- Testing results- Barrichello storms through the rain

Today in Jerez, we again saw the weather hamper runnings, but not without some good news. For example, Barrichello proved he has pace in the Williams, and the Virgin finally got up to speed.

Once again, as the session started at 8, the track was damp and required intermidiates. Unlike the other days, all the teams are pessimistic about the forecast. Inside Ferrari simply says on Twitter: “Nothing new at Jerez: just rain, rain and more rain to come…”

The good news is that Timo Glock was straight out of the pits today in the Virgin, and within half an hour had set 15 laps. But, he speared off at the Michelin corner (turn 2), and the red flags were out while his car was being recovered. When the session resumed, Felipe Massa led the way with a 1.30 time. At 9:00, Heikki Kovalainen made his first laps for Lotus, made 3 installation laps, but failed to set a time, and returned to the pits soon after. Yesterday’s power steering issue had been resolved, so the team were confident. Worryingly enough, Glock’s off was more serious than anticipated, as the doors to the Virgin garage were locked off as the car was taken apart for repairs. He didn’t actually hit anything when he spun, but it is believed thata mechanical problem of some sort caused the spin.

Timo Glock after spinning off

Timo Glock after spinning off

By 9:20, Ferrari were reporting a problem with Massa’s car, saying: “We have a technical issue: the stop will not be short… Nothing serious but it will take time to sort it out.” The rain soon got heavier, and more was forecast for later today. The rain got so heavy that all of the electricity sockets in the media centre lost power, because of electrical problems. Lewis Hamilton made the call for extreme wets at 9:40, and his fastest lap in his 5-lap run was a 1.36, showing how bad the conditions had become. By 10:00, the red flag was shown, not for an incident, but because there was so much standing water on the track. While the teams regrouped, it turned out that there was a problem with Kovalainen’s Lotus. It is unclear what happened, but a picture was taken, so you can see for yourself.

A problem in the Lotus pits

A problem in the Lotus pits

In fact, by 10:30, the weather was so bad the teams couldn’t even practice pit stops. The media centre apparently didn’t even have lighting, the journalist’s laptop lights were the only brightness in the room. Let’s make it clear, though, that this is nowhere near the monsoon we saw at Malaysia last year. Vettel, Kovalainen, Glock and Buemi all went out soon, but didn’t manage much, although Glock and Vettel did get good mileage in the conditions. By 11:30, Glock had finished a 13-lap stint, leaving him with 40 laps already under his belt. Plenty of cars braved the conditions, but few set good lap time, mostly in the 1.35 range. At 11:50, Kovalainen ran off at Turn 3, after an 8-lap run, and got stuck in the gravel. His front wing was badly damaged, so Lotus were forced to evaluate the damage to the car.

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

By 12:30, conditions were slightly improving, with no rain falling, but the track still wet and windy. Vitaly Petrov managed a 1.30.6, a good lap in those conditions. Everyone was still on extreme wets at this point. Rubens Barrichello was alternating betwen very fast and very slow laps, getting a 1.27 and a 1.35 in the same 17-lap stint. His best and worst times were 9 seconds apart, showing you how varying the conditions were. It wasn’t the rain that was hampering the team’s efforts, it was the wind. Inside Ferrari reported: “The wind is making the day even more troubled…” The good news was, the track was improving, as Petrov got into the 1.27.8 by 13:00.

By 1, everyone knew that the Lotus would be out of action for the day. Kovalainen was apologetic on his Twitter account, while Mike Gascoyne said: “Slight off for Heikki. Knocked off the front wing. Spare on its way but will not be here until 2am in the morning so no more running today” . “Conditions drying up so a shame not to get any dry running today”. Up to about 14:00, there was little change at Jerez, at the track still wasn’t drying out enough. Paul di Resta handed over his car to Vitantonio Liuzzi at 2, and he got stuck in immidiately, setting a 1.30.6 after 9 laps. Many teams had given up on conditions, such as Ferrari, who decided to practice pitstops, as the Williams crew watched them sometimes.

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

At 14:30, Timo Glock went out, and was the only man on track for 15 minutes, before Petrov joined him. Glock finished an 8-lap run, his fastest lap being 1.31, and getting up to 46 laps. He pitted, went straight back out, and instantly set a 1.30.4, only 3 seconds behind Barrichello. This pushed them up to 8th in today’s standings. Unfortunately, by 15:00, most of the teams were either practicing pit stops or testing race preparations. While many cars went out at the end for a final run, they were nowhere near the pace they needed, so it was a frustrating end to the day for everyone. Barrcihello’s earlier lap of 1.27.145 was the fastest of the day, followed by Petrov, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa, De la Rosa, di Resta, Glock, Liuzzi, Hamilton, Buemi and Kovalainen. Barrichello set the most laps, with 98, while de la Rosa only got in 8 in the morning. Barrichello’s fastest lap meant that 6 different teams have topped the timesheets in as many testing days. This is very good news for this season, even if most of it was in the wet.

The predicted floods never arrived, but it was close to it in the morning. The good news is, better conditions are forecast for tomorrow.

Update: Virgin have released a video of their day in Jerez. Clearly they had nothing better to do while it was wet :P (extreme Virgin joke reference possibility!)

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. R. Barrichello Williams FW32 1.27.145 98
2. V. Petrov Renault R30 1.27.828 +0.683 56
3. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.28.162 +1.017 70
4. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.28.515 +1.370 71
5. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.28.879 +1.734 92
6. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.29.691 +2.546 8
7. P. di Resta Force India VJM03 1.30.344 +3.199 33
8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

T. Glock

V. Liuzzi

L. Hamilton

S. Buemi

H. Kovalainen

Virgin

F. India

McLaren

T.Rosso

Lotus

VR-01

VJM03

MP4-25

STR5

T127

1.30.476

1.30.666

1.31.633

1.32.678

1.33.554

+3.331

+3.521

+4.488

+5.533

+6.409

72

24

57

57

30

Pictures from today’s test:

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