Sauber, who are yet to score a world championship point in their new incarnation, hope to put the problems of the opening races behind them as they head to Shanghai for Round 4.
Pedro de la Rosa is a fan of the new circuit in China. “The Shanghai Circuit is one I really like and enjoy,” said the Spaniard. “The last time I raced there was in 2006 and I finished fifth. It is a good track with a very long straight and nice overtaking opportunities. Overall the circuit has a great variety of corners, including hard braking for a hairpin and other corners which flow nicely.”
De la Rosa insists that, despite a disappointing start to the season, the team are getting better. “We are working hard on improving the performance of our car. There are 16 races to go, so the season isn't over by any means. Looking at the reliability I'm quite relaxed. What happened in Malaysia was extremely unlucky and will not happen again.”
Teammate Kamui Kobayashi has had previous successes at the circuit in other series, and is also a big fan of the track. “I'm very excited to be racing in Shanghai for the first time in Formula One. I had a good weekend there with GP2 Asia in October 2008. I was second on the grid, set the fastest race lap and just missed winning after a safety car period. The circuit is very nice and the grandstand is really impressive. Actually I like the hard braking before the hairpin after the long straight.”
However, he thinks a repeat of his previous Shanghai success next weekend will not be easy, but looks forward to seeing plenty of his fans. “I feel it will be difficult for us in Shanghai, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I generally like racing in Asia, and with Japan not being that far away I usually see more fellow countrymen there than in Europe.”
Sauber’s new technical director James Key is optimistic that he can turn around the team’s fortunes, and is going to use the race in China to get his bearings. “I'm looking forward to the first race with the team. I arrived in Hinwil after the Easter weekend and met a lot of people. I got a very good impression of what's going on. There is obviously work to be done, but the spirit within the team and the motivation are very high. What is now beginning to emerge is the direction we need to go in.
“Everyone is pushing very hard, and we are making plans at the moment on the direction we should go in the future to keep developing. I haven't been to the track this year, so it's going to be interesting to see how things are run,learn a bit about the tyres and talk to the drivers. It will be the first time I see the C29, so it will be good to have a close look at it along with Willy Rampf [the outgoing technical director] and go through it in detail.”
Key also outlined the challenges facing the team in China. “As far as the circuit is concerned, it's a fairly similar downforce level to what we have experienced on the past three circuits. It's another purpose built track with some interesting features. There's a very long straight, therefore downforce is a compromise.It's a fairly high grip track, which might mean taking a little bit of wing off. Braking stability and traction are very important, and you have those two snail like corners which are tricky for the drivers. We have to see how the cars and the tyres deal with it. We hope for the best and will try to get some points.”