Sauber has been one team who are in all sorts of trouble in this season, they have been struggling for performance, and also struggling to get their finances right. However, in a move that can be seen as a blessing in disguise by the team, the Pirelli has confirmed the change to the 2012 construction with the 2013 compounds from the Hungarian Grand Prix. This should be the right time for the team to get some valuable points and impress the potential sponsors, as some of its rivals might be struggling to understand the tyres?
At the beginning of this season, when we finished the first two flyaway races, we have seen the Sauber C32 struggle for pace. We have written an article at that time, where we focused on the issues surrounding the C32. (Link: Lost in the Vengeance - Sauber 2013)
Now, heading into the halfway mark, things have been so far gloomy with the pace of C32, along with the financial concerns that the team has been forced to deal with, it’s safe to assume that this team will see off this season, unlike others in the past, who had to leave the season midway into the championship due to the financial constraints. Maybe, there is still some light at the end of the tunnel for this ambitious midfield team, as most of it is down to Pirelli, and also down to the internal changes, that the team has been worked on for the German Grand Prix. Unlike at the start of the season, where the team struggled to get its tyres working in the optimum range for a long stint as compared to its previous season, the change in the construction of compounds might suit the team, just like in 2012 season.
The Car needs some optimization:
Force India has been one team in the recent past who showed significant improvements with the pace of its car, all by its optimization. The Anglo Indian team who was tight on budget, decided to switch over its complete development programme to 2013, sometime after the summer break, and instead asked its trackside mechanics, to further optimize its components that has been introduced right after the summer break of 2012. The Team showed improved pace at the end of the season, and was even fighting for the race win at the rain interrupted Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
One man who has been associated with both these teams is Nico Hulkenberg, As we have stated countless times in the past, Nico is capable of being the driving force of a team. It comes as a no surprise, when he revealed that the improved performance at the German Grand Prix was mostly due to setup changes, and other internal changes that the team tried out. Nico also confirmed that the Sauber hasn’t introduced any new components for the German Grand Prix.
“This weekend was better than the previous ones. We didn’t have an update on the car, we experimented with the set-up, which worked well.” - Nico Hulkenberg
“Of course, we are not where we want to be, but we made a step in the right direction.” - Monisha Kaltenborn
Although plenty of people would point their finger at Pirelli for the Sauber’s inspired showing, which to a large extent might be true, they shouldn’t be surprised with the pace improvements that one gets from the setup changes. In a period like the current era, where teams use every opportunity to run the extra mile, teams in the midfield would admit that, the car has been used only to 50% of its potential during the midseason mark, and sometimes the true potential wouldn’t have been found even at the end of the season as well.
“It’s a reliable car with good mechanical resistance and it offers a lot of possibilities for its development. I’d say we’re at 50 percent of its potential and we can still extract another 50 percent, mainly in aerodynamics.” - Luis Perez-Sala on the potential of F112. This was his statement in the month of August 2012.
With the team confirming about their financial concerns, there has been rumours linking several personalities to this team, it has also been widely reported that the development of the car has been stopped for quite sometime now, and that salaries hasn’t been cleared from the month of May, which has prompted Nico Hulkenberg to look for an opportunity elsewhere for the 2014 season. The team could be using this window of opportunity to gather useful data from the C32 which inturn would be useful when the development restarts.
“Finally a Friday with consistent weather conditions. We were able to work through the whole programme without any difficulties. We tested a lot of different things, and I think the positions we are at reflect where we can be with the speed we currently have. However, there is still some room to improve the set-up of the car. So now we have to have a good look at the data in order to get the maximum out of the car. Tomorrow will be another dry day and, of course, I will do everything possible to get into Q3.” - Nico Hulkenberg
“I think it was a very productive day. We managed to run through the whole programme without any problems. We were trying different set-ups, which varied a lot, so it was tricky switching between the different ones. This was something we don’t usually do, but at the end we gained valuable information. The day went well and it seems our performance in the long runs has improved. With all the data we gathered, I think we made a step forward.” - Esteban Gutierrez
“We had two dry sessions today, with both cars running reliably, so were able to complete our test programme. We continued with our extensive correlation programme gathering some useful data for the factory. The drivers were pretty happy with the car initially. We explored some different set-ups today.” - Tom McCullough, Sauber head of track engineering
On the other hand, if the team decides to completely switch away the focus from the 2013 season, due to the lack of funds, or securing the funds at the last minute, the team could still find enough potential from the car before the end of this season, by continuing to hunt for setup changes. Although, it boils down to the situation from other teams, we are just assuming that challenger designed by the McLaren bound Matt Morris has enough potential for the team to experiment until the end of the season.
Do you think Sauber can regain its form into the second half of the season? or is the potential of C32 far too low to experiment with?