Divorce can be particularly difficult on the children. Sauber found that out the hard way when BMW picked up and left at the end of 2009, leaving the team to fend for itself. With the Bavarian automaker's support, the Sauber team had turned from a solid midfielder to a front-running challenger, finishing the 2007 championship in second place. Last year, Sauber struggled with reliability issues and sponsor troubles to finish eighth in the constructors' standings.
If last season was a transition year for Sauber, this year will bring its opportunity to climb back up, and this is the car with which they hope to do so. Called the C30, the new car bears many of the same hallmarks adopted by its rival teams, with a high front nose, more sculpted side-pods and a slender rear section with an integrated diffuser design. It's engine is provided by Ferrari – just as it was last year and in the pre-BMW years – as is the regenerative braking system.
Perhaps most crucial, however, are the sponsors Sauber has brought on board for this season. By signing Sergio Perez, a promising young Mexican driver who won five GP2 races last season to finish second behind Williams' Pastor Maldonado, Sauber has recruited a number of Mexican sponsors, including Carlos Slim's Telmex and Cuervo tequila. So far, however, Sauber has been unable to attract Japanese sponsors to the team despite retaining Perez' returning wingman Kamui Kobayashi, who stands as the only Japanese driver on the grid, and the only contemporary Japanese driver to make it in F1 without the support of a Japanese automaker.
Will Sauber be able to pull itself back from the brink where it stood this time last year and mount a challenge for a couple of podium positions? Time will tell, but for now you can read more about the new car in the press release after the jump and ogle it in the high-resolution image gallery below.
Kobayashi and Pérez unveil the Sauber C30-Ferrari
Valencia/Hinwil, 31st January 2011 - Today, the day before the start of the official Formula One testing, the Sauber F1 Team presented the Sauber C30-Ferrari at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Cheste near Valencia, Spain.
Two thousand and eleven sees the Sauber F1 Team embark on its 19th Formula One season. Leaving behind the upheavals of 2010 that followed the metamorphosis from a works to a private team, the aim is to present itself in 2011 with renewed stability.
Team Principal Peter Sauber outlines the targets: "We want to finish in the points regularly and clearly improve our position in the FIA Formula One Constructors' World Championship." He goes on to elaborate: "Two thousand and ten marked the 41st year of our company history and one of the most difficult. But we managed to overcome these difficulties in the second half of the season. We implemented some well-considered structural changes. The appointment of James Key as Technical Director already bore fruit last season, and he is now in charge of development of the Sauber C30-Ferrari. At the same time, we have managed to secure our business foundation for the 2011 season. In these economically straitened times that is something we can be proud of too."
As for the drivers, the team looks forward with keen anticipation to continuing to work with Kamui Kobayashi, and with eager curiosity to Sergio Pérez. The Japanese driver, who turns 25 in September 2011, is embarking on his second full Formula One season. In 2010 he drew attention to himself with his high speed on track, stunning overtaking manoeuvres and reliable implementation of race strategies. He made very few mistakes and earned 32 of the team's 44 World Championship points. "My rookie season is now behind me," says Kobayashi. "I learned a lot, gained a lot of self-confidence, and my target for 2011 is not to make any mistakes."
The team's new rookie is Sergio Pérez. He hails from Mexico and celebrated his 21st birthday in January 2011. He took his first Formula One test with Sauber in Abu Dhabi in November 2010, having finished as runner-up in the GP2 Championship. "I'm aware how challenging Formula One is from both a driver's point of view and technically," says Pérez. "I've got a lot to learn, and in Kamui I have an excellent yardstick. My personal goal is to make steady progress. The support I'm getting back in my home country is huge, and I don't want to disappoint anyone over there either."
Pérez isn't the only Mexican in the Sauber F1 Team: Esteban Gutièrrez is standing by as test and reserve driver. Born in August 1991, he is a good one-and-a-half years younger than his compatriot. Sauber had already taken Gutièrrez under its wing in 2010 as an affiliated driver. The youngest member of the team swept up a commanding GP3 Championship win last year and will be competing in GP2 in 2011. "I've still got a long way to go," Gutièrrez is only too aware, "but ever since the two days of testing with Sauber, at the end of 2009 and the end of 2010, Formula One has been my goal."
The aim is for the Sauber C30-Ferrari not just to prove more reliable than its predecessor; there were a number of other weaknesses to be banished as well. One of the overriding targets is to improve aerodynamic efficiency, low-speed cornering, mechanical grip and to gain more flexibility in suspension tuning.
The new technical regulations certainly presented the engineers with a tricky assignment, since the ban on double diffusers fundamentally alters the car's aerodynamic concept. Another tough challenge was the switch to Pirelli tyres, which meant the engineers had to make decisions during the concept phase before the teams had a chance to test the tyres out on track. Further changes stipulate a ban on the F-duct and the adjustable front wing. Instead, the rear wing may now be adjusted by the driver, and the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) is once again available to run.
The striking visual features of the Sauber C30 are a raised front, slender waist, compact rear, new rollhoop and downward-sloping engine cover. Propelling the car as before is the Ferrari 056 engine, while power delivery is courtesy of a new Ferrari transmission. The KERS also comes from the Maranello factory.
Technical Director, James Key, summarises: "In order to take a step forward in 2011, we were already systematically tackling the C29's weaknesses over the last season – and we've made progress. The insights we gleaned were taken into account when the concept for the new C30 was being drawn up. Since some of the changes decreed by the regulations – particularly regarding the tyres – can only be analysed out on track, it was important for us to build, firstly, a fundamentally predictable car and, secondly, one that would provide sufficient flexibility to respond to ongoing findings at the track and during further development stages."
One thing is clear: the status of the car at the rollout in Valencia on 31st January 2011 is only the start. As part of the development programme, the team will be fitting the C30 with a new aerodynamic package before the curtain raiser in Bahrain.
New on the car are the logos of Telmex, Claro and Telcel – all three brands belong to America Movil, the Central and Latin American telecommunication group. Interproteccion is an insurance group from Mexico. Also a new partner from Mexico is the Tequila brand Jose Cuervo. Familiar, as they have appeared on the team's cars for a long time, are the Swiss names of sport watch manufacturer Certina and automotive group Emil Frey AG. Also known from last season is the logo of Mad-Croc (Energy Gum, Chews and Drinks).