The Sauber team today unveiled its new car and two new drivers; Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez at a ceremony in Hinwil, Switzerland.
Sauber had a great year in 2012 and this will be an interesting year for them, with two new drivers to bed in, but a sound technical platform on which to build. Like other teams in the “squeezed middle” they will have to be careful to manage their limited resources, developing the 2013 car for a short while, but leaving enough capacity to make sure they produce a competitive car for 2014, when the rules will change significantly.
This is an expensive exercise and a team like Sauber will have to divert funds towards 2014 at the expense of 2013 as the year goes on. For this reason it is vital to start the season strongly and score points early on.
That said, Sauber have probably currently got the second best wind tunnel for F1 development, behind the Toyota tunnel. But of course they have their tunnel on site in Hinwil, which is a huge advantage. They also have a good CFD capability so aerodynamics-wise they are well placed to deliver a competive car.
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn highlighted Hulkenberg’s ability to harvest points from most kind of situation as a real asset for the team and this will be particularly important with a rookie in the second car.
“Two thousand and twelve was a very successful year for us,” said Kaltenborn. “We not only moved up from seventh to sixth place in the constructors’ standings, but also improved our points total from 44 in 2011 to 126 last season. We have a strong platform in place now, on which we are aiming to build and continue our upward curve.”
The 21-year-old Dutchman Robin Frijns comes in as reserve driver, but it looks like his chances to get behind the wheel will be limited.
Sauber had one of the best cars last year and was a real innovator in the area of the exhausts and the rear of the car, with many teams copying their early season ideas.
Like many cars released this last week, the launch specification of the car seems to have strong carry over from last year and new ideas are perhaps being kept under wraps until the later test sessions, but for the technical specification of the new car, here is Mark Gillan’s analysis:
Firstly last year’s Sauber was one of the best cars at being able to manage tyre temperatures and had a particularly interesting rear drum geometry which helped ensure that the rear tyres were maintained at a consistently cool temperature.
They were ahead of the game on this matter, relative to most other Teams, and it will be interesting once the testing starts to see what changes they have made in this region – can only be seen with the wheel off, which we should see in testing.
The nose has been updated and whilst the upper step has been washed out, outboard, they have retained a dished centre and on the lower surface of the nose forward of this dished centre they have added a bulge, probably for more froward aerobalance but it will be interesting to see more detailed photographs in this area. The under nose turning vanes remain.
The front brake duct concept remains unchanged. The nose cameras remain in their traditional location on the nose.
The side pods and turning vanes are all new this year and the side pods have a more progressive intake which should provide a better feed to all portions of the radiators. The split turning vane concept from last year has been evolved to now have a single vane that links the floor to the top of the side pod with the addition of a secondary strengthening arm.
The suspension layout at the front looks similar. Roll hoop intake is very similar.