They showed an improvement in pace but still failed to score any points in Barcelona yesterday, and now Sauber head to Monaco where both cars will be back on track for free practice this Thursday.
Despite the step forward in performance Sauber showed last weekend, Pedro de la Rosa is not expecting a great result at the principality on Sunday. “My last race in Monte Carlo was in 2002 and I finished tenth in the Jaguar,” recalls the Spaniard, who was forced to retire from his home race yesterday. “For me this is the most difficult circuit of the season, as it is very challenging. You have to really concentrate in order to avoid the slightest mistake. To have maximum track time in the practice sessions and find a good rhythm is very important.
“You need a lot of downforce and a good car for the narrow, slow corners. I'm afraid we may struggle a bit in Monaco, so I don't expect an easy weekend for us.
“Off the track I understand why people love coming to Monaco, although it is absolutely not my sort of lifestyle. They are on a party mission, while we have a different schedule and tasks. As a racing driver I find it a rather chaotic weekend, from a fan's perspective it must be great fun.”
Kamui Kobayashi has only ever raced in Monte Carlo in the lower formulas, and can’t wait to drive around the streets in an F1 car: “It will be my first Formula One race in Monaco, but I have some experience from GP2 – although not the best ones. Both races turned out to be short for me when I was involved in accidents. It wasn't my fault and it can easily happen in Monaco. Driving there in a Formula One car must be fantastic.
“I'm really excited and looking forward to it, especially as I can see us improving as there is a positive trend. But I know it will be difficult to continue this in Monaco, as I don't think our car is ideal for slow corners. Of course Monaco is very challenging also for a driver. I'm well aware I have room for improvement, so I will push hard and do my best.”
Sauber technical director James Key knows that the unique characteristics of Monaco will provide a challenge for everybody this weekend, and explains what the many things that the team must consider: “It will be a very different event, as it is the first very high downforce circuit of the season. It will be interesting to see how these longer wheelbase, high fuel level cars work there because it's something we haven't experienced before. But obviously a very exciting event.
“Tyres will be very soft, so we have to see how we manage those. And, of course, we have to be extremely careful how we time our qualifying runs with so many cars now on the track. We have some small developments on the car specifically for Monaco. We have to work hard on the mechanical set-up to make sure that we can cope with the bumps, but also keep the aerodynamics strong as well, then it could be reasonable for us. But it's a very different event from the first five races, so it will be interesting to see how that shuffles the pack.”