The Sauber F1 team have struggled through the first four races of the season, with a finish of eleventh for Adrian Sutil in Australia the best result to date. In fact since a double finish at Melbourne, Sutil has failed to finish since while Esteban Gutierrez has only finished once, a lowly sixteenth place in China last time out.
They are one of only four teams to have yet to break into the points along with Lotus, Marussia and Caterham, but arrive at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain with a whole host of updates, plus a lighter car that the team hope will improve performance to enable them to get into the top ten. Giampaolo Dall’Ara, the head of track engineering for Sauber has stated the team are hopeful the modifications to the car can bring them better performance on track.
“At the Spanish Grand Prix both C33s will have essential revisions, following an extensive weight reduction and a significant aerodynamic update,” said Dall’Ara. “This update consists of a modified front wing and a new engine cover, new side-pod fins and deflectors, as well as a number of other aerodynamic changes.
“Besides that, we will also have a software improvement which will enable us to use the potential of the power unit in a better way. We expect a busy Friday at the track while tuning the set-up to the new package.
“Making the best use of the tyre compounds will also be a challenge, as Pirelli’s choice to allocate medium and hard tyres appears to be conservative. We very much look forward to converting everyone’s’ efforts into improved lap times. However, we know that all the other teams are progressing as well, so it will be interesting to see where we stand. We will certainly do our best in order to race for points.”
The Friday running will see test driver Giedo van der Garde once again take control of the C33, with the Dutch driver also taking one of the days of the post-race test at the circuit next week.
“It is nice to come back to Europe and especially to Barcelona,” said van der Garde. “The Circuit de Catalunya is a track that I like a lot. We will have some updates and our C33 will weigh less, so it will be interesting to see how the car behaves. I am positive, and I am keen to get back behind the wheel. After FP1 on Friday I will have a full day of testing on Tuesday, so I am looking forward to that.”
Adrian Sutil is hopeful the updates on the C33 will help him at least see the chequered flag that he hasn’t seen since Australia, and he’s also hoping to be challenging higher up the grid to where he has been up to now.
“We will be travelling to Barcelona with some car updates, which I hope will help us to improve our performance,” said Sutil. “Obviously, I expect more than in the last races. After three retirements in a row, we need to finish this race. I am looking forward, and I think that our performance will be stronger than in the previous races
“All of us drivers know the track in Barcelona quite well as everyone has tested there very often. The Circuit de Catalunya is a nice track with high aerodynamic demands on the car. There are some fast corners and only one long straight. The last sector is quite tight, therefore slower and not easy to drive.
“We have to find a compromise in terms of the car’s aerodynamic set-up. With one setting the first and second sectors will be good, but the last sector will be a disadvantage, or vice versa.”
Team-mate Esteban Gutierrez is also hoping for better luck and performance as the European season begins. The Mexican finished twelfth in Australia but retired in Malaysia with a gearbox issue before being crashed into by the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado in Bahrain. He did finish in China but well down the order.
“The Spanish Grand Prix is the beginning of the European season, and where updates to the car will be introduced,” said an optimistic Gutierrez. “For us it is an opportunity to improve our level of competitiveness. I have faith in my team, everyone is doing their best. We are positive and expect to make a step forward.
“Regarding the track, I really enjoy driving on the Circuit de Catalunya. In every category I have raced in, I have always enjoyed the atmosphere there. Last year was very positive for me because I did the fastest lap in the race. I am fully prepared to go for the maximum and to get the most out of the car.”