INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2000 - Sauber and Prost are the latest two teams to unveil the Formula One cars they will use to contest the 2000 World Championship that includes the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept.
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2000 - Sauber and Prost are the latest two teams to unveil the Formula One cars they will use to contest the 2000 World Championship that includes the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept. 24.
Peter Sauber, part owner and director of the Swiss-based Red Bull Sauber-Petronas team, is looking forward to the 2000 season.
"Our new car was completed last year and has been ready for testing early," he said. "In addition, we have two experienced drivers with Pedro Diniz and Mika Salo. Diniz was with the team in 1999, he knows the procedures and will now be able to capitalize on this. Salo showed last year, as Michael Schumacher's substitute in the Ferrari, what he is capable of. I'm convinced that together with them, a further improved Sauber-Petronas V10 engine and the additions in personnel, we will be successful." The Red Bull Sauber-Petronas C19, unveiled in Zurich on Feb. 2, is the creation of Sergio Rinland and Leo Ress. Rinland has joined the team as part of its significant change in management structure and the technical department. "As chief designer," Sauber said, "Rinland is here to realize the ideas of our technical director Leo Ress. Up to now, Ress has had to cover both positions at the same time, thus hardly ever to be seen around the race track in recent times." Ress started designing the C19 in April 1999. "Despite more than 5,000 single parts which are new in all details," Ress said, "the car was finished early. The first functional tests were performed back in December, which left us enough time to sort out and fix eventual problems. For this reason, I am extremely optimistic in respect to the new season." Ress said the team had three main objectives for the new C19: improvement of aerodynamic efficiency in the whole car as compared to last year's C18, weight reduction and better car reliability, with emphasis on the gearbox. The car features a new lighter seven-speed aluminum gearbox mounted longitudinally on the main axis of the car. Sauber engineers spent around 30 weeks working in a wind tunnel with a half-scale model of the new car to create an aerodynamic package with lower drag and higher downforce than last year's car. "With the C19 we have taken a significant step forward", Ress said. "We were able to save weight in crucial places. This was in itself vital as the FIA, with stricter, albeit sensible changes to the regulations such as Kevlar side protection and stronger roll hoops, made the Constructor's job a little more difficult." Power comes from Ferrari, which leases year-old V10s to Sauber. The Sauber team has its engine department that modifies the V10s and badges them Petronas in deference to the Malaysian petroleum company that is one of the team's main sponsors. This year's engine is 10 kilos (22 pounds) lighter than last year's engine and weighs in at 110 kilos (242 pounds). Red Bull, an energy sports drink, remains as Sauber's prime sponsor. This year marks Peter Sauber's 30th anniversary as a racecar constructor. He designed his first car, the C1, in his parents' basement. All Saubers carry the "C" designation in honor of his wife, Christiane. Sauber's Mercedes-Benz-powered prototype sports cars won the Le Mans 24 Hours race in 1988 and prototype Constructors and Drivers World Championships in 1989 and 1990. His team was part of Mercedes-Benz's young driver program. Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger drove for Sauber in 1990 and 1991. Sauber entered Formula One in 1993. The Prost Grand Prix team unveiled its 2000 car at Spain's Barcelona track and also announced the U.S.-based Internet company Yahoo! as its new major sponsor. "This new partnership will enable us to broaden our reach into Formula One worldwide and an ever-growing and international audience," said Yahoo! chairman Tim Koogle. Gauloises, the French tobacco company, remains as the title sponsor for the French team owned by four-time World Champion Alain Prost. Prost's drivers this season are France's Jean Alesi, 35, who, with 166 Grand Prix starts is the most experienced driver in the 2000 lineup, and Germany's Nick Heidfeld, 22, a rookie entering F1 after winning the FIA Formula 3000 championship last year. "My two drivers really complement each other," Prost said. "Jean has exceptional experience and motivation and Nick has obvious great talent. We are expecting some impressive results." Alesi and reigning World Champion Mika Hakkinen are the only two current F1 drivers who competed in a United States Grand Prix. Alesi finished second to Ayrton Senna in the 1990 Grand Prix at Phoenix. This year Alesi will be started his 11th full F1 season. "I'm happy to arrive at Prost Grand Prix right at the time the team has started to become really competitive," said Alesi, who drove for Sauber in the last two seasons. "Alain is not only the owner of the team, he's also a good friend of mine. It is a great motivation for me to be racing for a French team." Prost, who holds the all-time win record with 51 Grand Prix victories, and Alesi were teammates at Ferrari in 1991. Heidfeld was the test driver for West McLaren-Mercedes and, in two seasons of Formula 3000, has driven on many of the European tracks he will encounter in his rookie F1 season. "I did not expect it to be easy, but I don't feel I am stretched out of my depth in any way," Heidfeld said. "I know the circuits for many of the races, and I don't feel under any big pressure. I know what I can do, and I am very keen to do my best and show people my ability. I believe I can do well and that we could be quite competitive." Prost said his team is aiming to be among the top five. He bought the team, which was called Ligier from 1976 to 1996, in 1997.