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Sauber F1 Team looking for Points in Bahrain

by F1Fan on March 9, 2010

A lot has happened to the BMW Sauber Team since BMW announced it would be pulling out of Formula One. After a lot of uncertainty Peter Sauber finally managed to save the team and take the vacant slot on the 2010 grid left open by Toyota’s departure.

Surprisingly Peter Sauber has not changed the teams name and the team is still officially entered as “BMW Sauber F1” even though the new car now uses a Ferrari engine.

As a private team it has dramatically slimmed down to live within its reduced budget, yet the new C29 car has proved to be quick and reliable in winter testing. Given the problems that the team has had to overcome so far, just to be able to turn up in Bahrain with two C29s at the season’s opening race would be good enough for most teams. That’s not the case for the BMW Sauber F1, their goal is to score points on March 14 in the opening Grand Prix.

To that end, setting the new car up for the Bahrain circuit will be a key component as explained by the teams Technical Director, Willy Rampf:

“The kick off for the coming season promises extra excitement because very few of the teams showed their full potential during the tests. Due to the refuelling ban the fuel cells have become much larger and, therefore, we’ve got radically different cars. It is an engineer’s task to find a set-up which provides a good balance for the cars, although they will now be a hundred kilos heavier at the start of the race. Race strategy also provides totally new challenges. Pit stops will be mainly dictated by the tyre performance. Both tyre specs still have to be run. The circuit lay-out in Bahrain has changed significantly as it is now dominated by a narrow section in the infield with eight additional corners. The downforce level will be a compromise. On the one hand the many low speed corners require high downforce, but on the other the extraordinary width of the track encourages overtaking and this means you can’t disregard the need for top-speed.”

Both of BMW Saubers new drivers, Pedro De La Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi have had success on the Bahrain circuit in the past and are looking forward to driving on the new circuit configuration:

Pedro de la Rosa:

“I have good memories of Bahrain. In 2005 when I had to jump in I scored the fastest race lap. In 2007 I was there for two days of testing. However, I think the new section which is added to the infield will make it an all new track, because it means we have to adapt the downforce level. The best aspect of the circuit is that you can overtake. There are three long straights with each followed by a corner where you have to brake really hard. We will have good racing there, I think, and all I want is to fight because this is what I missed most. It is difficult to tell yet which track will be good for our car. In any case it will be very interesting to see how the strategies unfold, and how the teams will react to each other’s strategy in the race. Due to the fact that refuelling isn’t allowed anymore, the team can influence the outcome a lot more. After we have had four good tests on three different circuits I feel very confident for the season’s start. I covered a lot of mileage with the team and we learnt a lot. Bahrain will mark my return to racing and I can’t wait.”

Kamui Kobayashi:

“I won two GP2 Asia races in Bahrain in 2008 and 2009 and I have been testing there in Formula One in 2009. I like the fact that the season starts on a circuit I know so well. The track is quite nice, I like every corner and now we get some more of them. The track has a lot of stop-and-go corners and I really enjoy that style, while I also think it will suit our car. During the tests I learnt a lot and I’m training hard. I definitely feel ready for the start of the season and I’m also looking forward to the usual good weather in Bahrain, as I really like it warm.”

Showing that the new car is competitive with an early success in Bahrain would be good for the team on many fronts not the least which would be the chance of securing additional sponsorship. The team lost its long time major sponsorship deal with Petronas to Mercedes GP earlier this year, money is the lifeblood of F1 teams, without a sufficient budget it will be hard to remain competitive throughout the season so a replacement for Petronas is needed and the sooner the better.

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