After scoring a second podium in seven races, Peter Sauber has hailed the C31 as the best car to have been produced by the technicians at his Hinwil factory. Given that in its BMW days the team won a race and finished 2nd in the constructors’ championship of 2007 (after McLaren’s disqualification) that is some claim.
Sauber now lie sixth in the championship with 58 points, just 11 behind Mercedes.
“For me, this result is more valuable than the second place in Malaysia,” he said after the third place finish in Montreal. “Canada was a completely normal race – no rain, no safety car, and the only retirement (affecting Perez result) was Schumacher. Hinwil has built the best car we have had since entering formula one in 1993. 75 per cent of the success is solely in the area of aerodynamics, and we are now the envy of most of our opponents.”
Another area where Sauber feels his rivals envy him is in Perez himself. The young Mexican caught the eye with his debut performance in Australia last year where he managed to get to the finish with only one stop, getting a points result (although the car was later thrown out for a wing irregularity).
Perez did a supeb job in Malaysia to finish second in the rain and could have won the race with bolder strategy work from the team. In Canada he started 15th and finished third. He was helped by strategy mistakes from Ferrari and Red Bull, but his pace on a long run on the supersoft tyre impressed everyone in F1. It is clearly something he has brought into F1 with him, rather than learned in his 18 months in the sport.
With Felipe Massa hanging on by a thread at Ferrari, speculation has again arisen about the Scuderia drafting in Perez next year. But Sauber told Roger Benoit of the Swiss paper Blick that Perez will find it “difficult” to leave Sauber, without giving any details as to why.
Sauber’s anointed successor CEO Monisha Kaltenborn had said that improving the car’s qualifying performance would be the key to more successes. Like Lotus, Sauber has found a way to maintain strong performance whilst preserving the tyres in race conditions, but it clearly has something to do with the set up being gentle on the tyres and this holds them back when it comes to one lap pace,
“It is our clear target to improve on the qualifying because if we can manage to get the car further in front on the grid, we can be far quicker and show even more the potential of this car, so this is really going to be our target to get further in front,” Kaltenborn said.
However, she made it clear that the team must find a solution that does not compromise its strong race form.
“That is a difficult one,” she said. “I think that has also a lot to do with how we ourselves prepare ourselves in qualifying, and there are enough areas that we have to improve as a team and if we can manage to get the qualifying session better together then we can really show these better kind of results.”
Like Lotus, Sauber will feel they have a chance of getting another great result in Valencia next week. Their ability to run one less pit stop than the opposition on a track where it’s hard to overtake means that there is scope to one-stop in that race and get ahead of rivals forced to do two. With overtaking so difficult, unlike Canada, track position in the final stint will be everything.