A gearbox problem prevented Pedro de la Rosa from taking part in Friday morning practice today in Barcelona, but both Sauber drivers feel reported progress and improvements to the car during the afternoon.
De la Rosa was unable to set a lap time in first practice, and was left playing catch-up after lunch. The Spaniard, who is competing at his home grand prix for the first time since 2002, was in a positive mood by the end of the day. “I had a good second session today,” said de la Rosa. “The mechanics did a great job and we recovered from the gear box problem we had this morning. In the afternoon we went through our programme. It was only one session but still enough to confirm the wind tunnel results.We took a step forward with the new aero package and the F-Duct. It is all going in the right direction now.”
Teammate Kamui Kobayashi completed 55 laps over the two 90 minute sessions. “Overall I'm quite happy,” the driver reported. “We had no troubles with my car today and I could see it improving over the course of the day. We have definitely found a new way to work over the last three weeks. Obviously we have to work on the set-up, but there is no big issue, nothing we can't solve.”
James Key, the new technical director for the Sauber team, explained their focus over the two sessions: “We came here with several additions to the car which we were going to test today. Therefore we went out early in the session. Unfortunately Pedro suffered a problem with the gearbox, which is under investigation. It's not clear whether it's a hardware problem or one of the control systems. It meant he spun and had to stop his session after just a few laps. Kamui carried on and went through the programme very well. We had several new parts on the car which we wanted to test.
“The F-Duct system has taken a very good step forward, so we are pleased with the work we have done there. The aero components, which were new on the car, didn't give us any surprises so we are happy with the work there as well. We found some useful directions for the set-up which added a lot to our database for understanding the car and the tyres.
“In the afternoon both drivers carried out similar programmes. Pedro obviously needed to get the laps in, so getting a feel for the car. I think the comments from both drivers are positive concerning the changes we made to the car, which are both set-up and aerodynamic updates. So we can be happy we made the step which we expected. It looks like the pace is reasonable, certainly on the long runs.”
The team have also announced a new partnership for the races in Barcelona and Valencia this season. Burger King Spain will have their logo on both the side and the nose of the C29 for the two Spanish races.
“We are proud to be appearing in Spain alongside the global brand of Burger King,” said team owner Peter Sauber. “In Formula One, the vast restaurant chain sector has hardly been tapped.”
The car has been bereft of sponsor logos so far this season, and this partnership with the restaurant chain will be welcome, even if it is only for two races.