Sauber’s driver line-up has expressed their excitement at returning to Europe for the fifth round of the 2013 season at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain, as well as admitting that they will bring several big upgrades to Barcelona.
It is a track that both drivers know well and is a home from home for all of the teams due to the track hosting two winter tests. Barcelona is also a vibrant city which makes it a favourite amongst the drivers.
Sauber’s start to the season has been far from ideal with a tally of just five points on the table. They currently lie eighth in the constructors standings thanks to Nico Hulkenberg’s eighth and 10th place finishes in Malaysia and China.
The German can’t wait to get back in the car and is a big fan of the Barcelona track. In a statement from Sauber previewing the next round of the season he said “I’m looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix because it kicks off this season’s European races. Barcelona is a nice city where you can get a real feel for the Spanish life style. We know the Circuit de Catalunya well, of course, from the winter tests.”
Hulkenberg knows that track conditions will be considerably different in comparison to winter testing, mainly due to the warmer climate. “However, since winter testing many things have changed and also the climate will be different from the one we had in February, which you have to take into consideration.”
He brands the circuit as “diverse” and discussed the challenges of the well-known track. “The first two sectors are fast with fast, long corners, which require good down force and a well-balanced car, whereas the third sector is quite technical. The aero updates we bring to this race will show how well our car is suited to this track.”
Despite being a rookie, Gutierrez goes in to the Spanish Grand Prix with a good amount of knowledge on the circuit. He has raced there in GP3 and GP2 as well as getting to test at the track over the winter. “The first time I raced in Barcelona was in 2008. I know the track and during the winter tests I was also able to experience driving a Formula One car there. As the first of a series of European races, I think it is going to be an exciting event and I’m looking forward to that.”
However despite being a fan of the track he admits that the track is a tricky one to master, “The track is quite demanding, especially the last sector. Tyre management will be crucial here, and, especially during a qualifying lap, you need to nurse your tyres in the first two sectors in order to get a clean third sector. You must make sure the tyres still have good grip when you approach the final corners of the lap, including the chicane. We have to wait and see if the updates will help us to catch up with the guys further up the field.”
Talking of updates being brought to the car, Sauber’s Head of Engineering Tom McCullough revealed that the team will bring plenty of aero upgrades including a revised rear wing. “We have some further aero updates, including a modified rear wing, and we will be evaluating these during Friday practice.”
He cited qualifying as being more important than at other circuits and targeted both cars to finish in the points. “Qualifying is particularly important here as overtaking can be difficult in the race. Our target for the race is to finish with both cars in the points.”
With the car’s current pace it is unlikely that they will get both cars in the points but they seem to have confidence in their upgrades and both drivers know and like the track. However the Swiss team has admitted to having a considerably smaller budget in comparison to other teams that they are competing in so whether their upgrades can compare against what the other teams bring, we will have to wait and see.
Image courtesy of Sauber F1 Team