The Sauber F1 Team is looking forward to the first European round of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship, which will be the Santander Spanish Grand Prix on the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona held from 11th to 13th of May.
For all the teams this circuit is the most familiar one of all. Two pre-season tests took place there in February and March. At last week’s test in Mugello, Italy, the Sauber C31-Ferrari was equipped with a new aero package which was tested by both the team’s racing drivers, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Pérez.
Kamui Kobayashi (car number 14):
“At the Mugello test I definitely had the feeling our new update to the car is a step forward for us. This is good, of course, but only at the Barcelona circuit will we be able to tell how much of an improvement it really is.
Not only because testing never allows for proper comparisons to the competition, but also because the Circuit de Catalunya is special. It has everything – fast corners, medium speed corners and slow corners. Although everybody knows that track so well, it is very difficult to get the set up right there. But, in turn, if you really manage to get it right there this normally means the car can be fast on other circuits as well. It will be a challenging weekend for us drivers as well as for the car and the engineers, and I am very much looking forward to going racing again.”
Sergio Pérez (car number 15):
“I am looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix very much and also to the other forthcoming races in Europe.
To me the race at the Circuit de Catalunya is one of the most special ones on the calendar. I obviously know the circuit very well from GP2, from last year’s Formula One race and, of course, from testing. It was there where I scored my first ever F1 points last year when I finished ninth. I hope to get some points again this year. Our recent race in Bahrain was very disappointing, so I really hope our new aero package will work well in Barcelona.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
“The Barcelona track is very complete. It has all kinds of features - low speed, medium speed and high speed corners as well as changes of direction. In some places the circuit is quite bumpy, and the tarmac is abrasive. Although we know this track well from testing it's always a challenging one. Pirelli will provide us with the soft and the hard tyre. It's the first time this year that there are two steps between the tyre compounds, which makes it interesting. We expect the soft one to be good in qualifying, while the hard compound should be strong in the race. The limiting factor is the wear on the front axle.
We tested a major upgrade to the car in Mugello
However, at the same time the track characteristics stress the rear tyres, therefore the challenge will be to find the best compromise for the set-up of the car. We tested a major upgrade to the car in Mugello, consisting of a new front wing and new bodywork, including a different exhaust exit and a new diffuser. The results of the test were encouraging. However, all the teams had some upgrades, and only the next race weekend will give us confirmation whether we are able to strengthen our position compared to our competitors. Nevertheless I'm confident that we can have a strong performance in Barcelona.”