As the teams and drivers are looking forward to the fifth round of the championship, after four fly-away races in Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain, everyone is eager to return to racing.
Sauber´s two drivers, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez, are positive for the race on the classic Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, and both drivers had the chance to experience a big aerodynamic package during the in-season testing at Mugello on May 1-3.
“At the Mugello test I definitely had the feeling our new update to the car is a step forward for us. This is good, of course, but only at the Barcelona circuit will we be able to tell how much of an improvement it really is. Not only because testing never allows for proper comparisons to the competition, but also because the Circuit de Catalunya is special. It has everything – fast corners, medium speed corners and slow corners. Although everybody knows that track so well, it is very difficult to get the set up right there. But, in turn, if you really manage to get it right there this normally means the car can be fast on other circuits as well. It will be a challenging weekend for us drivers as well as for the car and the engineers, and I am very much looking forward to going racing again.”
The race in Bahrain was a disappointing result, as Perez managed only 11th and Kobayashi 13th. But Perez is hoping that the new upgrade can boost the performance.
“I am looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix very much and also to the other forthcoming races in Europe. To me the race at the Circuit de Catalunya is one of the most special ones on the calendar. I obviously know the circuit very well from GP2, from last year’s Formula One race and, of course, from testing. It was there where I scored my first ever F1 points last year when I finished ninth. I hope to get some points again this year. Our recent race in Bahrain was very disappointing, so I really hope our new aero package will work well in Barcelona.”
Although the drivers know the circuit very well and the aero update should be able to give the C31 a push, there are many othr factors to consider. Pirelli will provide the teams with the soft and the hard tyres, and according to Giampaolo Dall´Ara, head of track engineering for Sauber, the real factor is the wear on the front axle.
“The Barcelona track is very complete. It has all kinds of features – low speed, medium speed and high speed corners as well as changes of direction. In some places the circuit is quite bumpy, and the tarmac is abrasive. Although we know this track well from testing it’s always a challenging one. Pirelli will provide us with the soft and the hard tyre. It’s the first time this year that there are two steps between the tyre compounds, which makes it interesting. We expect the soft one to be good in qualifying, while the hard compound should be strong in the race. The limiting factor is the wear on the front axle. However, at the same time the track characteristics stress the rear tyres, therefore the challenge will be to find the best compromise for the set-up of the car. We tested a major upgrade to the car in Mugello, consisting of a new front wing and new bodywork, including a different exhaust exit and a new diffuser. The results of the test were encouraging. However, all the teams had some upgrades, and only the next race weekend will give us confirmation whether we are able to strengthen our position compared to our competitors. Nevertheless I’m confident that we can have a strong performance in Barcelona.”