Nico Hulkenberg’s first real race for Sauber at the Malaysian Grand Prix highlighted the real flaws in their car, the C32. Over team radio he said the team had a lot of work to do and Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn has echoed those claims.
The Hinwil-based team has so far struggled to match the glittering start to their 2012 campaign. After signing a brand new driver line-up, the team had high hopes ahead of the season opener in Australia. However three races into the campaign and they are not where they want to be, and Kaltenborn knows that the issues will take time to resolve.
The team has so far struggled with the rear of the car. The team introduced tweaks to the car for China and despite Hulkenberg leading the race early on he eventually slipped to 10th, proving that they were not working as well as hoped.
Kaltenborn admitted that the signs were positive, but not enough. Speaking to Autosport she said ”
“We came here with the intention to introduce certain measures from what we saw in Malaysia,”
“We were not happy with that and we saw ourselves somewhere else. What we can see is that the measures we introduced are a step in the right direction.
“You cannot expect miracles, but they are at least a step in the right direction.”
Gutierrez crashed out of the Chinese Grand Prix in the early stages but Hulkenberg managed to lead the race during his first stint. However the question on the teams mind is why the German’s pace dropped off so dramatically after his final pit stop.
“Nico did a solid race and was competitive on both compounds,
“Now we have to understand why in the last stint he was no longer competitive.
“It could be due to the temperature because of the ambient conditions. We have to look at that, as there was nothing to suggest that the car had been affected.”
Despite the struggles, Hulkenberg is looking forward to this weekends round. Speaking in a team statement he said “I’m looking forward to the race in Bahrain. In 2010 I drove my first Formula One Grand Prix there. I like the track, and there is always a One Thousand and One Nights atmosphere in the paddock.”
He cited braking as one of the key factors for the weekend ahead, saying “Other than high temperatures, the brakes will play a significant role. There are a couple of long straights where we drive at over 300 kph and then we need to brake very hard into the corners, so it will be the usual balancing act between downforce and top speed.”
Gutierrez branded his Chinese Grand Prix as “disappointing”, before admitting the resulting 5-place grid penalty does not change his approach. “The mistake I made not only ended my race, but I also received a five place grid penalty. Of course, this will not make the race in Bahrain any easier, but it doesn’t change my approach or my motivation. I will fight and make the best out of the situation. I know the track from my time in GP2, and I think it’s a nice one with challenging corners. It’s a very demanding track for the tyres, and I’m looking forward to driving there in a Formula One car.”
Image courtesy of Sauber F1 Team