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Sauber looks for more consistent qualifying from evolutionary new car
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Feb 2012   |  6:16 pm GMT  |  21 comments

Despite losing their technical director a few days before the first test of the 2012 season, Sauber is ready to go with its C31, which ran today in Jerez. Kamui Kobayashi covered an impressive 106 laps, the most of any of the new cars.

Like many 2012 cars, the C31 is an evolution of the 2011 car, but there is one significant difference. Like their friends and allies at Ferrari, who supply the engines, the team has switched to pullrod suspension, albeit only at the rear. Ferrari has gone for pullroad suspension front and rear, which is much more edgy.

Sauber explains it like this: “The rear suspension is now a pullrod design. It shows a long pullrod towards the front of the gearbox and wide angled wishbones. This design allows improved packaging of the rear spring and damper elements. Despite the change from pushrod to pullrod, in terms of kinematics the engineers maintained a similar direction to the one they went in for the C30.”

Last year’s Sauber was very gentle on its tyres, which allowed it to score some useful points by employing fewer pit stops and long run strategies on days when other midfield teams were struggling for tyre life. This year the Pirelli tyres are designed to be a little more durable. The Sauber is likely to retain its race performance but the engineers will have been looking to make the car less peaky on set up so that they can qualify more consistently. Last year qualifying consistently was a big problem, especially for Kamui Kobayashi.

According to Sauber chief designer Matt Morris, “Pirelli is in its second year, so is now beginning to refine its compounds and the tyre’s profile. The compounds generally tend to be heading to slightly softer solutions, slightly more biased to a stronger front tyre than last year. This, of course, changes the way you balance the car.”

You can follow all the action from Jerez and the other tests in real time with tweets from teams, drivers and journalists at the circuit at http://twitter.jamesallenonf1.com

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

“Evolution” indeed. More like a ‘mutation!’

There are many blind alleys and dead ends in the Evolutionary tree.

Let us fervently hope this Walrus-platypus-whatever is one such and vanishes from the face of the earth quickly.


Saubers were slow the second half of 2011 because they ditched their blown-exhausts program around Silverstone. FI came up with a good solution and later also Toro Rosso, which most likely copied Red Bull’s ideas. At that point Sauber knew they haven’t got a chance fighting with these 2 on speed alone – they had to try to outsmart them, thus different strategies. You know your only option is to do things differently and hope it works – sometimes it did, sometimes it backfired.

On the subject of this year’s car – well, Sauber didn’t have much choice re rear of the car once Ferrari committed to pull-rod. It seams like they kept push-rod design for the front ’cause that’s what they are familiar with. It will be interesting to see how well the combination works.

And finally, something about money – don’t forget Sauber are Swiss – they’ll prefer to continue with a limited budget while looking for a right deal than to commit to a deal that doesn’t perfectly suit them.


Yes, halting their development of the blown exhaust hampered their performance quite a bit, but if I recall correctly, there were a number of races where the Saubers were basically left out for too long

In those races, it was clear that they could not stretch the tyres for as long as they thought they could.

Rather than pitting when their lap times started to fade Sauber tended to keep their drivers out till the absolute limit, by which time they’d be losing several seconds (and places) a lap.


I have never understood why underfunded teams have to have such desperately amateur liveries. Why can’t they promote the team name on the sidepods if they don’t have a title sponsor? There are hardly any markings to identify a car as a Sauber or a Williams as it is. And with all the resources that go into the cars why are so many sponsor logos unreadable? The circle logo on the airbox of the Sauber is hardly legible yet I’m sure somebody is paying dearly for that space.


Agree with this comment. I hate corporate sponsorship but I do oddly take interest in the liveries in F1. I can’t help but think most of the cars do a bad job of it. The new AMG lettering on the Mercedes is barely legible (though I do like Mercedes’ colours). The Lotus looks like it rolled around in the back pages of advertising in a trashy porn magazine. The Caterham has lost all sponsorship and is just green.

I dislike how the Force India looks but at least it’s a theme and coherent. Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull have their liveries sorted well. So did the Marussia last year. Toro Rosso’s colour scheme is sexy. The rest, especially Sauber and Williams, seem lost this year.

Why can’t F1 paint designers look to LMP1 cars and the like? They’re designed to look intriguing rather than just be thoughtless billboards. If I were paying money for advertising on a car, that’d be something I would think about.


The black front of the livery looks rather strange, still prefer the previous white as it looks much more elegant.


Sauber should be aiming for P6 or higher in constructors championship. Am curious how much difference in FIA prizemoney there was between P6 and P7 last year and what might have been for Sauber if had continued their form throughout 2011.

They really need to have both cars scoring points this year – thats how Force India pulled away last yr. I think the only time it happened was Aust GP (and their 10 pts got stripped). It would be better this year if they weren’t so reliant on making 1 less stop than others and always splitting the driver strategy. Both drivers were left stranded at the back end of many races last yr. Bottomline is I hope they managed to find some extra downforce…


Also have question marks about their strategy, where they seemed more intent on running as many laps as possible on each set of tyres instead of aiming for raw pace.

Considering they’ve got one of the most aggressive overtakers in Kobayashi and a pretty quick driver in Perez, I felt that the endurance-racing strategy employed by the team did Sauber no good.

Their fall from grace in the 2nd half of 2011 was very painful to watch.


Good team, it’s easy to cheer for these guys.

Surely they’d be a good buy going into 2014 for a manufacturer looking to get into F1?


This is the only ‘good looking’ car on the grid with the stepped nose. Whereas it looks tacked on to the other cars, the Saubers already looked angry and angular, and the paint scheme only makes it look better.

I hope they can snag a podium or two this year, and I am confident they will as long as they are as gentle on the tyres as they were last season.



I think this is the worst of the lot.


Still no apparent major cash flowing main sponsor as such cant help but feel this will be the last season under the Sauber name.

It will be interesting to see how the team perform and the season ending results.


Teams change their livery mainly for sponsorship reasons, so hopefully the new livery means they are negotiating with a major sponsor who needs a white background for sidepod logos instead of the old grey carbon. I’ll be shocked if the car doesn’t have a lot more sponsors by Melbourne GP, although the other midfield teams seem ahead of the game – their cars look fully sponsored up…


Exactly to point out hello your company could be on here!


I disagree, Sauber have always been a team that have managed to get a car onto the grid no matter what, unless he retires or sells his spot on the grid Sauber will always be present. He runs a very tight ship and seems to only spend money that he has, he would make a very good football chairman.


That, and they have some backing from Carlos Sim…


That I reckon would be the most likely take over other than a manufacturer and would prob leave Peter to run the show which i reckon he would still prefer regardless


Aye but resources dont last forever unless seriously topped up every now and again, Cant help but think he is grasping at finding that Major sponsor more so due to the paint on the car that suggests “hello” you could advertise here.

Thats what 3 seasons or is it 4 come the end of this one without a major title sponsor.

Like i said the manufacturers will be looking to come back in soon “which” is probably what he would want anyway would’nt it with him heading up the team??

And Peter Sauber prob mre so than most would be eager to be part of a successful team rather midfield or making up numbers which is further the direction towards i reckon there heading come the end of this season. Wait and see i suppose


Tech and costs etc are far far more advanced now though Aaron! There’s no way peter is in it to make up the numbers he is too ambitious for that its not a rich boys toy to him like others.


Williams are still on the grid and the Jordan team kept going for a number of years in a similar situation. I’m sure it won’t be easy but it is quite possible for Sauber to continue in F1 as a privately owned team.


Hi James! Slightly unrelated, but on what set of tyres did Paul di Resta set his fastest lap?

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