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Monaco GP: More aero updates for Sauber, team aims to qualify stronger


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: More aero updates for Sauber, team aims to qualify strongerSauber is also looking forward to round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Monaco Grand Prix, an iconic race staged in the streets of the Principality’s capital, Monte Carlo. Pirelli will bring the soft and super soft tyres to Monaco, and it is expected drivers need several stops to complete the race.

Tom McCullough: We have some further updated aero parts

Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering, Tom McCullough, explains the difficulties of the famous street circuit, “The circuit in Monaco is a real challenge for the drivers and the team. The track improves throughout the weekend and it’s important to give the drivers a set-up that gives them confidence as the barriers are very close.”

Sauber will focus on the tyres, said McCullough, “This will be the first race of the season where we use both the soft and super-soft tyres. We have some further updated aero parts to add to the package we took to Barcelona. Coming off the back of our better race pace in Barcelona, our aim is to qualify stronger, as this is particularly important in Monaco where overtaking is so difficult.”

Hulkenberg waiting in the garage - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Hulkenberg waiting in the garage – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg: In terms of performance, I’m quite positive

For Nico Hulkenberg, the circuit is not only a challenge, but also a joy to drive, and he said, “I’m really looking forward to the Monaco Grand Prix. The circuit along with the backdrop of the principality are just fantastic, and the atmosphere is one of the best in the season. The track is one of a kind with extremely narrow streets that will punish every little mistake.”

And he added, “This is a great challenge between me, the car and the track, and I always have a lot of fun driving there. In terms of performance, I’m quite positive. We’ve seen that the softer tyre compounds suit us quite well, which gives me confidence we’ll have a good weekend.”

Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez: Management of the rear tyres will be crucial

Esteban Gutierrez is also looking forward to race, but he has never driven a Formula One car on the streets of Monaco, and the Mexican said, “Driving on the limit through the narrow streets of Monaco is something special that I am really looking forward to. It’s one of my favourite tracks. I’ve driven there in GP2 twice and competing there in a Formula One car will be even more challenging and interesting.”

About the track itself he said, “It’s a high down force track with a lot of slow corners, and management of the rear tyres will be crucial. After the positive race in Barcelona, I am focusing on building on my performance there.”

The Swiss Sauber outfit is currently in eighth place of the Constructors’ Championship with five points. Hulkenberg is 14th, and Gutierrez is 16th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

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

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Spanish GP: Sauber to bring several aero updates to Barcelona


By Berthold Bouman

Spanish GP: Sauber to bring several aero updates to BarcelonaLike all other Formula One teams, Sauber are also looking forward to race on European soil again. The Swiss outfit will bring several new aero updates to the Circuit de Catalunya, including a modified rear wing.

Tom McCullough: Our target is to finish in the points

Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering Tom McCullough thinks that, not only the updates, but also the tyres will be the key to success this weekend, “Although Barcelona is a track we know well from winter testing, the higher temperatures do change how the tyres perform, so we have to adapt to that. The option tyre will be the medium compound and for the prime Pirelli are re-introducing the 2012 hard compound for this event.”

And he added, “We have some further aero updates, including a modified rear wing, and we will be evaluating these during Friday practice. Qualifying is particularly important here as overtaking can be difficult in the race. Our target for the race is to finish with both cars in the points.”

Nico Hulkenberg - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg: We know the Circuit de Catalunya well

Nico Hulkenberg is pleased to race in Europe again, and said, “I’m looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix because it kicks off this season’s European races. Barcelona is a nice city where you can get a real feel for the Spanish life style. We know the Circuit de Catalunya well, of course, from the winter tests.”

“However,” the young German said, “Since winter testing many things have changed and also the climate will be different from the one we had in February, which you have to take into consideration.” Asked about the circuit characteristics he commented, “The circuit is diverse. The first two sectors are fast with fast, long corners, which require good down force and a well-balanced car, whereas the third sector is quite technical.”

Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez: Tyre management will be crucial here

Esteban Gutierrez got his first taste of a Formula One car at the Circuit de Catalunya during pre-season testing in February this year, and is looking forward to race on the demanding track. He also thinks the tyres are important this weekend, “The track is quite demanding, especially the last sector. Tyre management will be crucial here, and, especially during a qualifying lap, you need to nurse your tyres in the first two sectors in order to get a clean third sector.”

And he further explained, “You must make sure the tyres still have good grip when you approach the final corners of the lap, including the chicane. We have to wait and see if the updates will help us to catch up with the guys further up the field.”

For Sauber it has been a difficult start of the season, they have so far only scored five points — courtesy of Hulkenberg — which gives them the right to eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship; Hulkenberg is currently 14th in the Drivers’ Championship, while Gutierrez is 18th.

Also read:

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


Bahrain GP: Sauber optimistic despite grid penalty for Gutierrez


By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Sauber optimistic despite grid penalty for GutierrezSauber also left Shanghai with mixed feelings; rookie Esteban Gutierrez has a five-place grid penalty as he crashed into the back of Adrian Sutil’s Force India, and Nico Hulkenberg only scored one point for the Swiss outfit after a promising start of the race.

Tom McCullough: We know what has to be done

Just like other teams, Sauber is still working to make the C32 faster, and looking back at the race in Shanghai, Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering, commented, ”From a technical point of view, China was a successful weekend for our team. We had taken some measures before that race, which proved to be effective. We now have a direction, and we know what has to be done. The Bahrain circuit is dominated by several long straights with mainly slow and medium speed corners. This places high importance on an efficient aero package and a car with strong low-speed performance — in particular traction.”

Bahrain is a very demanding circuit, and McCullough said, “The circuit layout is very demanding for the brakes. The desert environment results in quite a dusty track — especially when the wind builds up. The chance of rainfall is low, and the typically high ambient and track temperatures make it a real challenge for the cooling level of the car and management of the tyres.”

Nico Hulkenberg - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg: The brakes will play a significant role

Nico Hulkenberg has good memories of the desert circuit, as he started his first Formula One race there in 2010. He reckons the brakes will play an important role, “I like the track, and there is always a One Thousand and One Nights atmosphere in the paddock. Other than high temperatures, the brakes will play a significant role. There are a couple of long straights where we drive at over 300 kph and then we need to brake very hard into the corners, so it will be the usual balancing act between downforce and top speed.”

Grid penalty for Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Grid penalty for Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez: Penalty doesn’t change my approach or my motivation

A five-place grid penalty won’t make things easier for Gutierrez, but he has learned from his mistakes and is looking forward to another race. “The penalty doesn’t change my approach or my motivation,” Gutierrez said. “China also had a positive side to it, the engineers took several technical measures, which saw an improvement. Bahrain is another hot place on the calendar.”

He thinks the tyres will also play an important role, “The conditions are not as humid as in Malaysia, but you still have to be in good shape to cope with the heat during the race. I know the track from my time in GP2, and I think it’s a nice one with challenging corners. It’s a very demanding track for the tyres.”

Sauber is currently eighth in the race for the Constructors’ Championship, while Hulkenberg and Gutierrez are 13th and 17th respectively in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

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


Chinese GP: Sauber to test new parts at Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Sauber to test new parts at Shanghai - Photo: Sauber MotorsportAfter a short break, Sauber is heading for China for round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship: the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit. The Swiss outfit spent the weeks after the Malaysian Grand Prix analysing data, and have developed new parts for this weekend’s race.

Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: We will bring several test parts to Shanghai

Tom McCullough describes the Chinese track from a technical point of view, “The Shanghai circuit has a good mix of low, medium and high-speed corners. The track has several technical sections where corners lead straight into further corners requiring a good car balance and precise driving. The smooth track surface and typically low track temperatures have a significant impact on how the tyres perform — especially at the start of the race weekend whilst the track is cleaning up.”

Sauber will also bring some new parts to China, and they will be tested during the free practice sessions. “We analysed the data that we collected in Malaysia and found interesting directions for the development of the car, therefore we will bring several test parts to Shanghai. Having secured our first points of the season in Malaysia, we are eager to add to them as soon as possible,” McCullough said.

Nico Hulkenberg - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg: Tyres and strategy will be very important

German Nico Hulkenberg admitted Shanghai is not really his favourite track and said, “The circuit in Shanghai is not particularly one of my favourite tracks, nevertheless it’s a demanding one, especially the first few corners and the corners before the back straight. Tyres and strategy will be very important during the weekend.”

As he wasn’t able to start the Australian Grand Prix due to issues with the fuel system, the Malaysian Grand Prix was his first race with the Sauber C32. “I have a better feeling now I have driven my first race in the C32, especially because we were able to collect a lot of information. In Malaysia we scored points and that is also my goal for China.”

Esteban Gutierrez and his engineer - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez and his engineer – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez: My goal is to improve

The Chinese track is new for Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, and he commented, “I don’t actually know the track yet, so it will be an interesting challenge again to learn the circuit and then to develop confidence throughout the practice sessions.”

And he added, “Learning a new track all depends on the approach you take. You can learn a lot through video footage, your engineer’s advice on the right gears in different parts of the track and, most important of all, the more confidence you have in your car the easier it is to learn a new one. My goal is to improve and I’m looking forward to that.”

Also read:

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


Malaysian GP: Sauber targets to finish both cars in the points at Sepang


By Berthold Bouman

Malaysian GP: Sauber targets to finish both cars in the points at Sepang - Photo: Sauber MotorsportAfter a dismal performance during the Australian Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg couldn’t even start the race due to a fuel-system issue, the Swiss Sauber team is now looking forward to the next race at the Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: Target to finish both cars in the points

“The circuit is technically challenging as there are also two long straights that require an efficient car and also several low-speed corners,” said Tom McCullough, Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering.

“The circuit’s characteristics and typically high temperatures are also a real challenge for the tyres, which is why Pirelli will bring the medium and hard compounds. The weather can also play a significant part during the race weekend as late afternoon rain showers are common.”

Asked about Sauber’s target he said, “Our target for the race is to finish with both cars in the points.”

Hulkenberg hoping for better result at Sepang - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Hulkenberg hoping for better result at Sepang – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg: Malaysia totally different track

“Compared to Melbourne, the track in Malaysia has different characteristics. It’s a fast track with long high-speed corners, which should suit our car well,” said Nico Hulkenberg, who still hasn’t driven a Grand Prix for Sauber, as he couldn’t start the race in Melbourne.

He’s of course hoping for improvement, but the Sepang track is very demanding due to the high temperatures in Malaysia this time of the year, “For the drivers Malaysia is always a challenge because of the high temperatures and the humidity. Lastly there is always a chance of rain, which can be interesting, especially at the start of the race.”

Esteban Gutierrez: Looking to improve performance

Mexican Esteban Gutierrez finished his first Formula One race ever in 13th place, and he is aiming to improve his performance. “With the experience of an entire race here in Melbourne, I can now look at where I can improve as a driver and where we can improve as a team. Sepang is a good track, which I know from GP2. Now I’m looking forward to driving the track in a Formula One car,” the youngster said.

Also read:

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


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


Alonso quickest for Ferrari on day three of Barcelona testing


By Berthold Bouman

Alonso quickest for Ferrari on day three of Barcelona testing - Photo: FerrariFernando Alonso was fastest today at the Circuit de Catalunya, he lapped the circuit in 1m21.875, a time recorded on the soft Pirellis. Despite the low temperatures, Alonso was able to carry out all the tests in the F138, the focus was again on testing the 2013-spec Pirellis.

“Today we concentrated on a comparison of the compounds, starting with the soft and moving on to the hard in the afternoon. The track was colder than yesterday, especially in the morning, which made it harder to adapt the car and find the right grip level,” said Alonso.

And the Spaniard added, “Once again this year, the tyres will be one of the crucial aspects to manage: they are softer and quicker, but also less consistent and they degrade rapidly with every lap. We will have a lot of work to do to understand how best to balance the car, but that applies to all the teams.”

Second was Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber C32, he put a time of 1m22.160 on the clock after completing 92 laps. “It was a positive day. We got a lot of testing done with just minor problems,” said Hulkenberg. He too tested the soft Pirellis, and commented, “I ran the soft tyres in the morning here in Barcelona for the first time to get a feeling for those, which was interesting. The car is performing pretty well, and I‘m as happy as I can be.”

Romain Grosjean on third spot today - Photo: Lotus F1

Romain Grosjean on third spot today – Photo: Lotus F1

Romain Grosjean was on duty for Lotus today, and he again confirmed the potential of the E21 by conquering third place. After completing 119 laps he said with a smile, “I think I’m ready for a sleep after so many laps in the car! It’s good to see reliability today to add to the pace we’ve already seen in the car. We’re still at an early stage of development so it’s really promising to see where we are.”

About the Pirellis he said, “The 2013 tyres certainly feel different from last year’s but already we’re starting to understand them. I hope it’s dry tomorrow so we can get some more laps under our belt.”

Fourth on today’s list is Nico Rosberg in the new Mercedes, he too experienced problems due to the low temperatures, “We didn’t have a perfect morning and it was tough out there with the low temperatures. They were causing a lot of tyre graining, which made it difficult to do much useful testing. It was a few degrees warmer after the break and that gave a completely different picture. In general, I’m pleased with what we’ve achieved this week — I did a lot of mileage and the team has done a good job over the winter.”

Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas shared testing duties today, Maldonado was fifth and Bottas sixth, the difference between the pair was just 0.151s. Bottas again showed he is very competitive and the Finn said, “We started the afternoon with some shorter runs but we still haven’t seen the full potential of the FW35. I have been able to improve some things in my driving since yesterday, but there are still things I can work on compared to Pastor.”

Not much to write home about for McLaren and Jenson Button, yesterday Perez set the fastest time, today Button was seventh, almost a second off the pace. After the lunch break McLaren decided ‘to carry out some larger mechanical changes’, which meant Button had to wait until 15:00hrs local time before he could resume testing.

Adrian Sutil finally back in a F1 car again - Photo: Force India

Adrian Sutil finally back in a F1 car again – Photo: Force India

Adrian Sutil made his return to Formula One today and after 108 laps in the Force India VJM06 landed eighth place, not bad considering he hasn’t driven a Formula One car for almost 18 months now. A happy Sutil said, “I found that I was able to get back up to speed quickly and set some good times before lunch. In the afternoon we did some long runs and also introduced the hard compound tyre, which feels quite different to the soft and mediums.”

Sutil had never tried the new Pirellis and said, “We started off by doing some aero work this morning when the track was quite cold and green. Later on we moved to some performance work and tyre testing, and feeling all the different Pirelli compounds was something quite new for me.”

It was Mark Webber’s turn to drive the Red Bull RB9, he too put in a lot of laps, this time without any reliability problems. “We had a pretty good run today, we’re learning plenty, so a positive outing for us,” said the Australian. “Overall the car ran smoothly and once again we amassed a huge amount of data for the guys back at the factory to go through.”

Asked who has the fastest car during pre-season testing he said, “As usual at tests, the question of the pecking order comes up all the time but, honestly, I have no idea.” He thinks the new tyres make it difficult to make any predictions, “There are a few quick cars out there, but in winter testing it’s so hard to say if anyone’s better than anyone else, especially with the tyres going off the way they are — you’re losing four or five seconds over the course of a stint — so figuring out who’s doing what is pretty difficult.”

Behind the wheel of the Toro Rosso STR8 was Jean-Eric Vergne, the Frenchman took tenth place, while Max Chilton took 11th spot for Marussia.

KERS problems for Caterham today - Photo: Caterham F1

KERS problems for Caterham today – Photo: Caterham F1

Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was twelfth and last today, after completing 93 laps in the Caterham. “We had a technical issue in the afternoon which meant we were running without KERS for the whole session after lunch but despite that we were still able to try a number of different set-ups that give us more to work on tomorrow and several options to work through at the next test.”

Rain has been forecasted for tomorrow at the Circuit de Catalunya, and although teams would rather like to test in dry conditions, the rain could also provide valuable information about how all new Formula One cars perform in wet conditions.

Barcelona testing Day 3 – February 21

Pos   Driver                  Team            Time       Gap       Laps
  1.  Fernando Alonso         Ferrari         1m21.875              97
  2.  Nico Hulkenberg         Sauber          1m22.160   + 0.285    91
  3.  Romain Grosjean         Lotus           1m22.188   + 0.313   119
  4.  Nico Rosberg            Mercedes        1m22.611   + 0.736   108
  5.  Pastor Maldonado        Williams        1m22.675   + 0.800    79
  6.  Valtteri Bottas         Williams        1m22.826   + 0.951    68
  7.  Jenson Button           McLaren         1m22.840   + 0.965    71
  8.  Adrian Sutil            Force India     1m22.877   + 1.002    78
  9.  Mark Webber             Red Bull        1m23.024   + 1.149   108
 10.  Jean-Eric Vergne        Toro Rosso      1m23.366   + 1.491   106
 11.  Max Chilton             Marussia        1m25.690   + 3.815    58
 12.  Giedo van der Garde     Caterham        1m26.177   + 4.302    93

Sauber drivers Hulkenberg and Gutierrez talk about the 2013 season


Interviews conducted by Sauber

Sauber drivers Hulkenberg and Gutierrez talk about the 2013 season - Photo: Sauber MotorsportSauber launched its 2013 contender, the Sauber C32-Ferrari, today at their Hinwil headquarters, time to ask both drivers, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez about their expectations of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Interview with Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hülkenberg, the start of the 2013 Formula One season is approaching. Is the adrenaline pumping yet?
Not yet, no. The moment before the first race in Melbourne will definitely be the one to quicken the pulse!

Nico Hulkenberg - Sauber MotorsportHow did the winter preparations go?
Very good. It was the ideal combination of a 2-week training camp and intensive fitness training.

What are your expectations of the Sauber F1 Team?
We need to build on the solid basis of last year and reach some good results. But it is a whole new season: New game, new luck! We really have to wait and see what happens when we hit the track for the first time. And then we’ll take it from there.

Do you appreciate the close relationships the Sauber F1 Team nurtures with its fans?
Fans are an essential part of sport in general. If you receive so much fan mail, it does touch you personally. I am really trying to answer everything.

Tests involve a lot of hard graft. How do you prepare yourself?
Physical fitness and intensive work with the engineers. But actually I am just looking forward to finally sitting in the car.

How long does it actually take to adjust to a new car?
It is a mix of different factors. It takes a couple of days until every detail is right. Usually the adjustment process is completed when the first race is about to start.

How well do you actually know your team-mate?
We have not got to know each other very well so far, but we met in the paddock every now and then and I value him as a team mate.

What will be the greatest (sporting) challenge of the upcoming season?
To show a consistent good performance at every single race.

Interview with Esteban Gutierrez

Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber MotorsportEsteban Gutiérrez, the start of the 2013 Formula One season is approaching. Is the adrenaline pumping yet?
Not really, as I feel very calm at the moment. My goal is to focus on the most important things in my preparation, and then before Melbourne I’m quite sure we will all have the adrenaline pumping to the maximum.

How did the winter preparations go?
The winter preparations went really well. Apart from all my training back home, I also had the chance to spend very good days in Austria in December and January concentrating on my physical preparation, mainly based on winter sports like CrossCountry skiing, climbing through the snow, etc.

What are your expectations of the Sauber F1 Team?
With the progress the team has made in the previous years, I expect that as a team we will keep going in this same direction in order to reach our goals.

Do you appreciate the close relationships the Sauber F1 Team nurtures with its fans?
Yes definitely, I think that to share all experiences, both failures and victories, with the fans is the way to make sure all the energies coming from our supporters are positive.

Tests involve a lot of hard graft. How do you prepare yourself?
Mainly by keeping my mind clear for the tests so I can give my best feedback to the team, as it is a very important development stage in preparation for the races.

How long does it actually take to adjust to a new car?
In the beginning the most important task is to solve all the car’s reliability issues so we can put in a lot of laps in the tests. Then, of course, another important factor is to get to know the car in race and qualifying conditions, which mainly comes with experience during the first races.

How well do you actually know your team-mate?

I know that Nico has a similar working mentality to mine as prior to making it to Formula 1 we have raced in the same teams for a similar amount of time in the lower categories.

What will be the greatest (sporting) challenge of the upcoming season?
Gutiérrez: To be consistent at a good competitive level.


Sauber present C32 in Hinwil, team well-prepared for forthcoming season


By Berthold Bouman

Sauber present C32 in Hinwil, team well-prepared for forthcoming season - Photo: Sauber MotorsportToday Sauber became the fifth team to present their car for the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. Drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez unveiled the Sauber C32-Ferrari as is the official name of the car.

Last year Sauber had four podium finishes and scored 126 World Championship points, and the Swiss outfit is looking to build on their 2012 success this season. The new car will make its track debut at Jerez in a few days time, asked about the roll-out in Jerez Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn said,” I’m very excited. The roll-out of a new car is a very special moment every year. It’s something you’ve been working towards for almost a year and then you get your first impressions of how good a job you’ve done. Everyone in the team is excited about this moment, because everyone has played their part in it.”

Sauber Team Principal Monish Kaltenborn - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Asked about Sauber’s expectations for this year she commented, “What I can say is that we’re well-prepared, that we’ve got the new car finished in good time and that we’ve met the performance targets we set ourselves internally. That puts us in a confident frame of mind. But we’ll only really find out what it all amounts to at the first race of the season in Melbourne.”

And she added, “We put some good foundations in place last year. And now we want to build on that base and continue to improve as a team.”

Last year Sauber finished in sixth place of the Constructors’ Championship, what is the aim for 2013? “We’re not saying we want to finish in this or that position in the standings, as ultimately other factors will also come into play that are outside our control. What we can be clear about, however, is that we want to continue on our upward curve,” said Kaltenborn.

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All Photos: Sauber Motorsport


Hamilton: I’ll miss my friends at McLaren, but I’m excited about the future


By Berthold Bouman

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren - Photo: McLarenMixed emotions for Lewis Hamilton in Brazil yesterday, after taking the pole the 2008 World Champion he had set his sights on winning the race as a farewell present for his McLaren team. But it wasn’t to be, after taking the lead from Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, he was in a good position to win the race.

But Hulkenberg decided he wanted his first place back and the German dived into the inside of Turn One, but he was a little late on the brakes, his car started to slide and he collided with Hamilton, the front suspension broke and it was game over for the McLaren driver.

About the incident that cost him a victory he commented, “He came to see me after the race, which was nice. Now that the 2012 season is done and dusted, I feel a bit numb. It’s been a day of mixed emotions. I’m sad that I didn’t finish the race, but I’m excited about the future.”

Leaving McLaren was difficult for Hamilton, “I’ll miss my friends and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, but I’m optimistic about what lies ahead for me. I feel comfortable going into this winter because I feel I did a good job this year. I gave 2012 everything I had. I couldn’t have done anything more.”

And he added, “It’s been a brilliant experience to be a part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team over the past six years. I want to thank everyone and sincerely wish everyone the very best for the future. They’ve been fantastic, so supportive, and they continue to do an amazing job. So, to all of you at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I’ll miss each and every one of you!”


Force India thinks Sauber’s sixth place in Constructors’ Championship is out of reach


By Berthold Bouman

Force India has officially given up on taking sixth place from rival Sauber in the Constructors’ Championship, as Vijay Mallay’s Team is now 29 points behind the Swiss outfit. Asked a bout the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Mallya said, “I have mixed feelings because we extended our run of points finishes, but on the other hand our two main rivals were ahead of us and scored well. With two races to go Sauber are almost out of reach and Williams are just 22 points behind us.”

Paul di Resta, Force India

Which means Force India has to be careful not to lose that seventh place to Williams, but said Mallya, “Without the problems at the first corner, I’m convinced we could have been up there fighting for some bigger points.” Mallya is looking forward to the first visit of Force India to the United States, “It’s such an important market for the teams and the brands associated with the sport so it’s a very welcome return to the calendar. It will be the first time Sahara Force India has raced on American soil and the whole team is excited to be going there.”

Also driver Paul di Resta thinks he could have scored more points in Abu Dhabi, “In terms of race pace the car was strong, I overtook a lot of cars and without the puncture we could definitely have had a stronger day.”  Like his team boss, the Scott also thinks Sauber’s sixth place is now out of reach, “I think under normal circumstances you’d probably say Sauber are out of reach. Williams looked good in Abu Dhabi, but I think we’re in a strong enough position to defend from them.”

But di Resta is adamant the Circuit of the Americas will suit the car, “Austin will be an unknown but it’s a new track so it’s likely to be similar to Abu Dhabi with new tarmac and a smooth surface. So there’s every reason to believe we can be competitive there.”

Force India TV – Nico Hulkenberg on the United States Grand Prix

Nico Hulkenberg visits Codemasters to try out the new Formula 1 2012 video game and gets his first taste of the brand new Circuit Of The Americas. He talks about the game then takes the virtual VJM05 for a lap of the track.


Sauber Formula One team signs Nico Hulkenberg for 2013


By Berthold Bouman

The Sauber team today confirmed Nico Hulkenberg has signed a contract for 2013 with the Swiss outfit. The 25-year old German driver will replace Sergio Perez who will join McLaren next year. Sauber was impressed by Hulkenberg’s achievements in Formula One, thus signing him wasn’t a difficult decision.

Hulkenberg signs with Sauber for 2013

Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn commented, “We’ve been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive. That was the case in GP2 and has continued into Formula One.”

And she further explained, “An obvious highlight was how he scored pole at Interlagos in 2010 despite the most challenging external conditions. He clearly showed that he can seize the chance if it arises. But high spots like that are one thing; systematic teamwork is another — and on that score I have confidence in Nico too. I’m sure he will fit in very well with the Sauber F1 Team. We look forward to working together with him.”

Hulkenberg is looking forward to the new challenge, “I’m really looking forward to working with the Sauber F1 Team. It’s a well-placed team and very competitive. Plus it’s a team in which young drivers have repeatedly delivered exceptional performances. I would like to take up that baton.”

And he added, “The Sauber F1 Team is currently going through a very positive development and I’m certain that together we can achieve a lot. Until that time I will remain fully focused on my job with the Sahara Force India Team. I’d like to thank the management at Sahara Force India for giving me the chance to return to Formula One as a team driver.”

Hulkenberg’s C.V. is impressive indeed, before his Formula One career he won the Formula BMW ADAC series in 2005, he won the A1GP series in the 2006-2007 season, and he won the Masters of Formula Three in 2007. In 2008 he won the Formula Three Euroseries, and in 2009 won the GP2 series.

He started his Formula One career with Williams in 2010, but was dumped in favour of Pastor Maldonado, he was test driver for Force India in 2011 before he became a regular driver for the Indian team in 2012 and Hulkenberg is currently 12th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Sauber has yet to announce their second driver for 2013.


Japanese GP: Busy weekend so far for the FIA Stewards at Suzuka


By Berthold Bouman

Already a busy weekend for the FIA Stewards at the Suzuka circuit where round 15 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Japanese Grand Prix, takes place. This weekend ex-Formula One driver Derek Warwick represents the drivers and the Briton together with Lars Osterlind, Enzo Spano and Kazunari Yamanashi are, as it is officially called, the Stewards of the Meeting this weekend.

Busy weekend for FIA Stewards

On Friday Kimi Raikkonen was fined 2,200 Euro for speeding in the pit lane, Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, who took over Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham during the morning session, was found guilty of the same offence and was fined 400 Euro. Marussia’s Charles Pic was under investigation as his car ‘did not stay to the right of the bollard located on the left at Pit Entry’, but no further action was taken.

Jenson Button used a new gearbox during the final free practice session on Saturday morning, and thus received a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race. On Friday McLaren’s Paddy Lowe had said that the team’s gearbox problems were over, but apparently he was wrong, and it will be another tough weekend for Button.

Also during Practice 3 Pic received a penalty for ‘impeding Car 4 [Lewis Hamilton] between Turns 15 & 16 [last chicane], a breach of Article 31.7 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, the Frenchman received an official reprimand.

Next on the list is Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, who also had a new gearbox for qualifying, and also received a five-place grid penalty as gearboxes are required to last for five consecutive events. His team was forced to change the gearbox after the German had crashed during Practice 3.

Hulkenberg commented, “I’m in the car, so I’m responsible for what happened. It wasn’t a silly mistake, just a small lock-up and with the way that corner is, there was no way to recover it. The timing was pretty bad and now we have to deal with the situation as best as we can.”

Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Car 19 [Kovalainen] at Turn 16.

But by far he most tricky decision for the FIA Stewards to make involved pole sitter Sebastian Vettel, who was under investigation for blocking the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso during the closing stages of qualifying. An official FIA statement read, “The driver of Car 1 impeded Car 5 at Turn 16.” Vettel was involved “in an incident as defined by Article 16.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.” The German was lucky and only got an official reprimand for his action.


Japanese GP: Force India aiming for podium finish at Suzuka


By Berthold Bouman

Two fourth places for Force India this season, Paul di Resta was fourth in Singapore, while his team colleague Nico Hulkenberg took fourth place at Spa-Francorchamps, the next logical step would be a podium finish during one of the final six races of the season.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India

Team Principal Vijay Mallya is still confident and commented, “As I’ve said before that little bit of luck has eluded us. Hopefully it will come to us one day, because we’ve shown the pace of the car. This is the second time we’ve finished fourth in the last three races, so we’re becoming the bridesmaid a bit too often!”

Force India is still aiming for sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship, the Indian team is currently seventh, 26 points behind rival Sauber, but 21 points ahead of their other rival  Williams, who have so far gathered 54 points. “It’s not bad to be sitting at this stage of the season with 75 points in total — we’ve come a long way,” said Mallya.

Asked whether his team is still on target he replied, “I still remember the situation in 2010 when Williams pipped us by one point at the last race, so I guess it’s not over until it’s over! I’m still hoping that we can do it and one strong podium finish could help to wipe out Sauber’s advantage. It all depends how strong our rivals are in the final six races, but we certainly have some momentum.”

German Nico Hulkenberg doesn’t have good memories of the Suzuka circuit, and stated, “My race in 2010 with Williams was not especially memorable because I was taken out before the first corner. That was a real shame because it’s a track I really enjoy and with corners like the ‘S’ curves it’s a great experience in a Formula One car.”

He describes the main challenges of this very fast, but also technical circuit, from a driver’s point of view, “Suzuka is definitely one of my favourite circuits: it’s really challenging and technical, and you need a good car balance to hook up a good lap. Because it’s so technical it’s important to find a good rhythm because if you mess up one corner you can lose the flow of the whole lap.”

Hulkenberg’s main goal this weekend will be scoring points, “I’m feeling positive and we have generated some good momentum within the team recently so I want to keep that going. The goal is to keep getting consistent results in the points.”

Video: Paul Di Resta sums up the challenge of the classic Suzuka circuit ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix


Force India sets sights on strong Singapore GP


By Berthold Bouman

Force India is currently seventh in the Formula One Constructors’ Championship, 37 points behind the sixth-placed Sauber team, finishing in sixth place was Force India’s goal for this season, and thus the Indian team has some catching up to do, as Williams is only nine points behind them and has set its sights on beating Force India.

Paul di Resta - Force India

Paul di Resta – Force India

A great qualifying performance in Italy from Paul di Resta who was fourth, but drama for Nico Hulkenberg who couldn’t even put a timed lap on the clock as his car suddenly lost drive and the German had to start from 24th and last spot on the grid.

Unfortunately di Resta received a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox and thus started from ninth place on the start grid, and finished in eight place, while Hulkenberg had brake problems and had to retire from the race after 50 laps.

“If Paul had started where he should have started I’m sure he would have finished higher up the order,” said Force India owner Vijay Mallya. And added, “It was very unfortunate what happened to Nico during qualifying, where he couldn’t set a time. Given the pace of the cars I would have expected him to qualify somewhere close to Paul, so we could potentially have had both well inside the top ten. It was not to be.”

About securing sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship he remained upbeat, “I’m an optimist and I don’t give up! It’s tough, Williams are strong, Sauber are strong. And look at what’s happening with Lotus. A lot of teams that were regarded as midfield teams last year are now pushing the big boys pretty hard.”

One of the challenges of Singapore is the different time schedule, drivers and team personnel stay on an European time schedule. Di Resta explained, “It’s not something I find difficult. The important thing is making sure you choose the right flight to arrive in Singapore at the right time of day.

“You also have to make sure the hotel staff don’t tap on your door in the morning at 9am because you need to be sleeping for another five hours! I always go to bed at 6am and wake up at 2pm, that’s my routine.” He’s looking forward to the race, “I had a good race there last year and we’ve seen already that the car has been strong on street circuits this year. So I’m hoping that we will go well there, optimise the set-up and pick up some good points!”

Nico Hulkenberg talks us through the challenge of Singapore’s Marina Bay Circuit – video by Force India