Sauber unveils the C31

Sauber have unveiled their contender, the Ferrari-powered C31, for the 2012 Formula One world championship.

The Swiss squad finished in seventh place in the constructors’ standings last year after scoring 44 points following a strong start to the season.

After a drop in performance during the middle part of 2011, Sauber managed to keep rival Scuderia Toro Rosso at bay thanks to two point-scoring results in the final races of the season, thus securing seventh position.

The team will have an unchanged line-up for 2012 in the shape of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

The Hinwil-based squad will start the season without its technical director James Key, who announced last week he was leaving the team he had joined at the start of 2010.

“Our goal is to finish regularly in the points so as to put ourselves in a significantly better position in the world championship,” said team boss Peter Sauber.

“We are looking forward to another season working with our young and talented drivers. Kamui will be competing in his third full season in F1. Last year we asked him to take on leadership responsibilities within the team and he has grown into the role.

“With his rookie season behind him Sergio is now approaching his second season, which is often the most difficult in a driver’s Formula 1 career. Both drivers have huge potential and will work with the same race engineers as in 2011 to continue developing that promise.”

The C31 continues with the trend set by other teams and it incorporates a stepped nose.

Unlike last year, the new Sauber features a pull-rod design for its rear suspension, allowing for improved packaging of the rear spring and damper elements.

4 thoughts to “Sauber unveils the C31”

  1. Kamui Kobayashi says Formula 1’s various regulation changes for 2012 should serve as a boost to Sauber.

    Speaking at Jerez, where the team unveiled its C31 challenger, the 25-year-old Japanese driver predicted the effective ban on exhaust-blown diffusers would work in his – and Sauber’s – favour.

    Both were hit particularly hard by last year’s diffuser race, with Kobayashi scoring 25 of his 30 points in the first seven races of the year before a mid-season slump coincided with the team’s decision to halt development work.

    “Last year the exhaust performance affected speed, and we had developed it well but stopped before Silverstone and lost performance,” Kobayashi explained.

    “This year we definitely have a better chance because this [exhaust-blown diffusers] has gone, [so] we don’t have to try something different to find downforce.

    “Pirelli’s [change in compounds] is also a good direction for us. As you know our performance and race pace is normally quite good. If we have more chance [in qualifying] we can be better.”

    Kobayashi did however caution Sauber, saying it was imperative that the team found the correct development path as early as possible during the season.

    “Last year our biggest problem was with the exhaust [regulations], and we struggled for some points in the middle of the season.” he explained.

    “Last year we stopped [development] before the middle of the season; this year we have to really focus on how we develop the car.

    “We have to really judge what we develop, which parts we focus on – this has to be investigated with the team. Hopefully if we don’t miss it we can keep all our performance from beginning to end.”


  2. Sauber’s Sergio Perez welcomes Pirelli’s new approach for this year’s Formula One season. has the story.

    Sergio Perez is embracing Pirelli’s 2012 generation of tyres, which will be closer in performance between the compounds.

    He admitted, however, that it is too early to tell whether they will allow him to manage them better than his rivals in the way he could with last year’s Sauber.

    Perez was one of a few drivers who was able to exploit the degradation of the Italian rubber to his advantage last year, by pitting later or sometimes not as many times as his rivals during races.

    Speaking at the launch of the Swiss team’s new challenger, the C31, at Jerez on Monday, the 22-year-old Mexican said that he believes Pirelli’s decision to close the laptimes between its hard and soft tyres was good for Formula 1.

    “I think it will make the races more interesting because you have a more open window to work with, with strategies – which is important,” he said. “Definitely the races will be more exciting.”

    Perez also believes the new rules could even play to the advantage of Sauber, if the new car proves to be as soft on its tyres as its predecessor.

    “If you look at some races like Nurburgring last year where it was quite cold and we had the hard compound, there was a very big difference and it affected our team a little bit more because we could not warm up the tyres,” he said.

    “My style and also the car helped to make the tyres last longer. We don’t know how this year’s car will work with my style and how it will perform in the races, so we will have to wait and see.

    “And even though we are starting testing now the conditions will change a lot once we get to the first race so it is something we will see during the season. We will learn during the season how the tyres work and what the driver can do to save tyres without losing time.”

    Perez said that his focus for 2012 was to build on his strong rookie season and maintain momentum, which meant scoring points regularly this year.

    “I think our team has done a very good job over the winter and also last year developing our car,” he said. “I’m confident we have a good car and a strong package. Our target is definitely to improve from last year.”

    Perez remains a member of Ferrari’s young driver programme, but said that while he would continue to work for the Scuderia through 2012, his focus was on delivering as strong a season as possible for Sauber.

    “Of course I will be going there sometimes to work with the simulator, but the main objective now if for me here because this is a very important season,” said Perez. “I am very focussed on that.”

  3. Sauber is confident that its chances of delivering its target of regular points finishes in 2012 will not be dented by the departure of technical director James Key.

    The Hinwil-based outfit announced last week that Key was to leave the outfit to take up a job offer in Britain, with fresh speculation suggesting he could temporarily take on a role in sportscars before returning to F1.

    The loss of Key, who joined the outfit in the middle of 2010, comes just a few weeks before the start of the campaign but Sauber chiefs are optimistic that the new structure it has in place should not lead to any problems while other staff fill his old responsibilities.

    Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn said: “The situation was not fitting well for a while, so you of course start considering what you can do.

    “The people who are now in charge of the performance of the car have already been there, they have been in charge of it before as well, so we don’t expect any destabilisation to happen. Moreover the car is ready, we know what the plan is, so we really do not expect this.”

    Sergio Perez also reckons that the team had such a strong technical strength that Key’s departure would not hurt it.

    “The way I see it is we have already a strong team,” said the Mexican. “James was a key person and a good leader, but I think we have very good people at the team who can do the job and the team will be together. I am really confident that the team will be really strong.”

    Although Kaltenborn did not want to divulge too much background about the reasons for Key’s departure, she suggested that both parties realised their working relationship was not panning out as hoped.

    “He is not here so, to be fair, for a while both sides have been feeling that things are not working out, and also not the way both sides expected it. I guess this situation is the result of that.

    “James Key joined us at the time where we were in the transformation from a works team to a private team, and his contribution was very valuable. So we are very thankful to him for that. We now have a structure in place that we are confident about. It is the right one for the team to go ahead, so it is not any short term solution for us but a long-term structure.”

    Kaltenborn also denied reports that the team’s decision to not seek another technical director – instead using department heads to oversee the car evolution – was down to a lack of budget at the team.

    “There are reports around that we will not replace our technical director because we lack funds,” she said. “Now just to be clear and open here, if we look back 20 years the team has always lacked funds – sometimes bigger than other times. You will see the day when there is no gap in our budget because then we will be driving more in front, so it is easy to monitor.”

    Kaltenborn said that talks were ongoing with sponsors, and that she was hopeful new deals could be signed before the start of the season.

    “We are also negotiating with new partners so I am quite confident that our livery will look different by the time we are at the first race,” she said.


  4. The Swiss based team are confident it will continue to have a tyre management edge over its rivals. has the details.

    Sauber is confident that it will continue to have a tyre management advantage in 2012 having made retaining that characteristic its “primary” goal with the new C31.

    According to chief designer Matt Morris, keeping tyre degradation minimised has been a fundamental part of the design concept for the new car. This is despite tackling the tyre warm-up problems that blighted the team during qualifying last season through changes both to the front and rear suspension.

    “That was our primary goal, to make sure that we maintain our good tyre management and also get the flexibility to allow more setup changes, particularly in qualifying,” he said when asked by AUTOSPORT if he expected Sauber to continue to have a tyre advantage.

    “It is always a compromise between qualifying and the race. We’ve got some very good guys back at the factory working in the performance group continually trying to understand the tyres and what we need to do in terms of car setup to get the most out of the tyres.

    “Last year, we suffered a lot in qualifying, so that [improving setup options] has been a big priority for us this year. We have got new front and rear suspension, which allows us lots more setup tools, so we feel that this is one of the areas that we need to focus on.

    “There are a lot of other areas, including how we deal with the exhausts, and again we have spent a lot of time over the winter developing those areas.”

    Morris added that the car is almost entirely comprised of new parts, but that the design philosophy that drove last year’s Sauber C30 has been carried over.

    He also confirmed that the team has a busy schedule of upgrades in the works, although the upcoming tests will have a big influence on the schedule for improvements.

    “Pretty much the whole car is new in terms of the chassis,” he said. “All of the suspension is new, so there is very little carryover.

    “In terms of development, we have a very busy three tests ahead of us, which will hopefully give us some direction. It’s hard to put upgrade timelines in place, but after testing we will know a lot more.

    “The chassis has been designed around a much tighter package, but although it’s tight it’s flexible in allowing us to introduce lots of different aerodynamic developments that we’ve got between now and Melbourne. The exhaust regulations have also been a big challenge.

    “We have a base car here that we are rolling out to test lots of different options. We feel we have put in place a very flexible car to challenge for points coring positions.”

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