Australian GP: Sauber preview

After 6500 kms of testing with the new Sauber Petronas C24 the team is looking forward to matching itself against its rivals as the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, on Sunday, 6 ...

After 6500 kms of testing with the new Sauber Petronas C24 the team is looking forward to matching itself against its rivals as the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, on Sunday, 6 March.

Willy Rampf (Technical Director):

"It's going to be a very interesting start to the season, because of the new regulations. The new aerodynamic rules are quite drastic, with heavy revisions to the front and rear which have cost everyone quite a lot of downforce and made the cars a little more nervous."

"The new tyre rules will also make things very tricky for qualifying and the race as you may now only use one set of tyres from Saturday qualifying onwards. You have to choose from your prime and option tyres on Friday, and between Saturday qualifying and the end of the weekend the single set you choose will have gone through several heating and cooling cycles, will have done two qualifying sessions, one on Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday morning, and the whole race. It will be crucial on Friday, therefore, to choose the tyre option that not only gives you optimum performance but also durability.

"Qualifying will now be different too. We will run with low fuel for maximum performance on Saturday afternoon, and then with race fuel on Sunday morning, and the times will be aggregated. Thus the effect of the fuel on the qualifying time will be less and the grid will be a more accurate reflection of true performance."

"Preserving the tyres in the race will be a major factor. During our long runs and race simulations in testing we have been quite pleased with the performance of our Michelin tyres."

"The tyre issue will also affect race strategy. There will be fewer refuelling stops. Most races will probably be two stops, possibly even one, though there is a penalty in terms of car performance trying to get by with one because the tyres have a great fuel load to carry."

"Overall, it is very difficult to make any predictions prior to the weekend. We have not always run at the same venue as our competition during winter testing and we will only find out in Melbourne exactly where we are. That's what will make Saturday afternoon and Sunday in particular so exciting. And it is no longer about the performance of the tyres on the first lap or in the early laps."

"Now the last part of the race will be absolutely crucial, and if they have conserved their tyres better than their rivals I think we will see some people being able to improve their positions in the closing stages after the final pit stops. There will be much more focus on the end of the race and a little less perhaps on grid position, and I think this is going to make things also interesting for the spectators."

Jacques Villeneuve (133 GPs):

"Heading from Europe to Australia is like going on holiday because it is really so far away. I like it there because the atmosphere is really nice, it is a really special GP. I definitely like the track too, it's certainly one of my favourite and I have been pretty competitive there in the past."

"Right now I don't know what we can expect from this race; nobody does. But we have been working hard over the winter to get a good result there. Psychologically the first race of the season is very important - it sets the pace for the rest of the season in a way, so you really want to start off on a high note..."

Felipe Massa (34 GPs):

"Melbourne is a good track, but very hard on the brakes. I made my Grand Prix debut there back in 2002. That year I was involved in an accident at the first corner, however, and last year I had an engine problem, so this time I hope I can turn that around!"

"It's very difficult to know what to expect, as we cannot definitely say yet who will set the pace. It will take a while before that becomes apparent this weekend, but I am confident after all our testing that the Sauber Petronas C24 is a good car. It's not difficult to drive even with the reduction in downforce. We did manage altogether nearly 200 laps at Imola despite the snowy weather; the track is very similar to Albert Park, and we went well there."

"I think we are in good shape with the car and the Michelin tyres which have been very consistent, and I'm very fit myself after training a lot and the hundred laps a day I was doing in testing. So I'm optimistic, and looking forward to getting the year off to a strong start."

-sauber-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Felipe Massa
Teams Sauber