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Australian GP: Sauber ready for challenging season opener in Melbourne

By Berthold Bouman

Australian GP Sauber ready for challenging season opener in Melbourne - Photo: Sauber MotorsportThe Sauber team completely renewed their driver line-up for this season, Nico Hulkenberg left Force India and joined the Swiss outfit, while rookie Esteban Gutierrez replaces his compatriot Sergio Perez, who joined McLaren.

Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: The C32 has performed as expected

Head of Track Engineering Tom McCullough was pleased with the test results earlier this season, “Nico and Esteban have quickly settled into their new working environment and have already established strong working relationships within the team, which is very important.”

He was encouraged by the pace of the C32, ”You never know exactly where you sit compared to the other teams during winter testing, but importantly the C32 has performed as expected which is encouraging.”

An unknown factor this season are the new Pirelli tyres, and McCullough said, “It will be interesting to see how the new generation Medium and Super Soft Pirelli tyres perform at a track with less high-speed corners than our two test tracks.” And he added, “Overall the whole team is confident and looking forward to getting out there and starting the 2013 racing season.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn and Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg, Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn and Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg: Albert Park challenge for drivers

Hulkenberg now has plenty of experience, and he too is looking forward to the first race of the season. “I’m really looking forward to this race, as Australia is always one of my favorite Grands Prix, and Melbourne has a very special atmosphere, so I’m keen to be there. I also like the track which is not a permanent circuit. We are driving around a lake in a park and, especially during the drivers’ parade, you feel very close to the fans,” said the German.

“The track itself is very challenging for the drivers. It has got a lot of bumps and you have to know how best to deal with them,” he added. He admitted Sauber has a few technical issues to sort out, but he’s confident his team is in good shape, “In terms of competitiveness, the final Barcelona test showed we are quite well prepared but still have some homework to do, and that we still have room for improvement in certain areas. But I’m confident the baseline is  good.”

Esteban Gutierrez: Formula One the next step in my career

Rookie Mexican Gutierrez will make his Grand Prix debut in Melbourne and said, “Melbourne will be my first race in Formula One and I’m sure it will be very special. It’s a track that I don’t know, but I’m confident I will be able to learn it quickly in the free practice sessions.”

About his goals in his rookie year he commented, “Competing in a Formula One race is the next step in my career, and that’s what I need to focus on. One of the things that I need to do is feel natural and relaxed in my surroundings so I can focus on the most important elements during the weekend.”

“I feel I have a good base for the start of the season, but, of course, I will keep on working as I have areas were I can improve. My goal is to exploit the car’s potential and finish consistently within the points.”

Also read:

Red Bull Australian GP Preview
Ferrari Australian GP Preview
McLaren Australian GP Preview
Lotus Australian GP Preview
Mercedes Australian GP Preview
Sauber Australian GP Preview
Force India Australian GP Preview
Williams Australian GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Australian GP Preview
Caterham Australian GP Preview
Marussia Australian GP Preview

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