Sauber plays down lack of pace
Sauber is not concerned about its pace in the opening pre-season test at Jerez and will bring significant upgrades to its new car when testing resumes in Bahrain later this month.
The new C33's best lap was nearly seven seconds off the fastest time of the week set by Kevin Magnussen and McLaren as both Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez struggled for grip. But with Sauber's focus set on racking up mileage in Jerez, team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said it was too early to talk about performance comparisons.
"It's very difficult to judge the lap times, because every team ran a different programme, including different fuel loads," she said. "The tyres were another important factor to consider. Both our drivers struggled to get temperature into the tyres. And it certainly didn't help them that we only had a provisional aero package with limited downforce on the car. However, this didn't come as a surprise to us. We know what to expect. It was our top priority to be ready from the first day of testing, so to be able to drive and collect as much data as possible."
Kaltenborn gave some details about the aero package for Bahrain.
"Fundamentally it's a very extensive package. We plan to have most of the parts on the car for the first test in Bahrain. This includes new front and rear wings, side pod deflectors, as well as several other small elements on the car. A few other parts will follow for the second test in Bahrain."
She is also confident the team can fix its new brake-by-wire system, which electronically applies the rear brakes so that they work in concert with the energy recovery system under deceleration.
"Not only the drivers, also the engineers were not happy about it," she explained. "This was a software issue in the first place. We were able to make improvements throughout the test, but there is still room for improvement. However, our engineers are convinced that they have enough time to solve those weaknesses together with our engine partner by the next test."
Sauber is powered by Ferrari, which ended the first test with lower engine mileage than Mercedes but had a significantly smoother week than Renault.
"Again, it is very difficult to judge at this stage. The only thing you can place in an order is the number of laps the teams did with the respective engines. Here the order is clear: Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault. But to compare the performance is impossible at the moment, also because some might still be playing their cards close to their chests. I am sure there will be movement right up to the first race in Melbourne in that regard. At the moment this is just a snapshot. It will remain exciting!"
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