Sauber looks ahead to coming season

Sauber looks ahead to coming season

Peter Sauber is one of only three privateers in Formula One at the moment and the Swiss team principal is looking forward to another season in the sport. The team was beaten down to sixth in the standings in 2003 but Sauber is undaunted, upbeat ...

Peter Sauber is one of only three privateers in Formula One at the moment and the Swiss team principal is looking forward to another season in the sport. The team was beaten down to sixth in the standings in 2003 but Sauber is undaunted, upbeat about the pairing of drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa and the addition of the high-tech wind tunnel completed just recently, as well as the enduring partnerships with Red Bull and Petronas.

Willi Rampf.
Photo by Nikki Reynolds.
"It is probably unique but it is the basis of our existence," Sauber said of the ten-year anniversary with Red Bull and Petronas in 2004, at the launch of the C23. "And also our partnership with Ferrari, the support and good working relations is so important."

"We were not really satisfied with last season, the car was quite good but we need to push forward and the competitiveness of our rivals is also relevant. There are factors we can influence and those we can't: the aerodynamics and development of the car we can; the engine, the tyres and the drivers, to some extent, we can't."

Sauber works closely with Ferrari on Bridgestone tyre development but some other Bridgestone teams feel the manufacturer focuses too much on the Maranello, to the detriment of its other partners. Sauber thinks working with Ferrari is beneficial.

"Our competitors Michelin made enormous progress last year and in winter testing," he conceded. "But we believe Bridgestone will catch up. If we support Ferrari with Bridgestone development we will benefit."

As for drivers, Sauber is pleased to welcome Fisichella, whom he has been trying to sign for a while, and welcome back Felipe Massa who debuted with the team in 2002. "I am happy with the choice," he said. "For two or three years we have been trying to get Fisichella. The story with Massa I'm sure you all know; we recommended he test with Ferrari but it was always 'see you again', not 'goodbye'."

There's a chance either or both drivers could be loaned to Ferrari for testing duties: "It is possible," Sauber explained. "There are two aspects in favour of it; for us as a small team it is not possible to do major tyre tests but we can support Ferrari, which will help us. But it's also good for the drivers to experience a really top car."

Naturally, with his experience, Fisichella will be the main driver. "Giancarlo will have a leading role, with such a big difference in experience between the two," Sauber added. Test driver Neel Jani will have his chance to get more experience behind the wheel but Sauber is not planning on sending the young Swiss to every race to participate as third driver in the Friday practices.

"It would benefit us if we could make use of the Friday sessions but we are not planning to," he said. "It is important for a test driver to be in another competitive series and our main testing will be done by our principal drivers."

Currently it seems likely Jani will compete in the Formula Nissan World Series in 2004."I'm proud to have this chance as I'm so young," said 20 year old Jani of his testing role. "I won't have maybe as much time in the car as I would like but I am grateful for the opportunity."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Felipe Massa , Peter Sauber , Neel Jani
Teams Ferrari , Sauber