The Sauber F1 team have announced that their 2011 car, the C30, will be launched on January 31st.
They are the first team to confirm their launch date. The Ferrari engined squad have already confirmed their two drivers for the 2011 season, in the form of fans favourite Kamui Kobayashi and new rookie Pastor Maldonado.
They have signed a sponsorship deal with Telmex, a major Mexican telecommunications company.
Nick Heidfeld has said he is hopeful of finding a race seat for the 2011 season, after Sauber announced this week they would sign young Mexican Sergio Perez.
Heidfeld had been drafted in to the Sauber team to replace Pedro de La Rosa for the final few races of the season. The 33 year old, who had previously driven for the team in both its privateer and BMW ownership days had been hopeful of racing for the team in 2011.
However he is now looking for a seat in another team, and some big teams like Renault and Williams have yet to confirm their driver line ups.
“I think it will happen,” he said of his prospects of landing a race drive. “But until it’s signed, you can never be sure.
“Obviously there are not that many places left for next year, but we are doing our best. It’s looking positive, definitely.”
“I didn’t know about it [Perez signing for 2011] before I signed for this year,” said Heidfeld. “Obviously I knew that there were things going on in the background and Peter [Sauber] informed me before it was made official.
“Actually, I didn’t complain. Quite the opposite – I congratulated him because it’s great news for the team and especially for the guys in Hinwil who I have worked with for seven years. I’m happy that they can continue with a partner in Telmex that secures the future and gives them the possibility to move further up.”
Mexican rising star Sergio Perez has been announced as one of Sauber’s race drivers for the 2011 season.
Perez, who drove in this season’s GP2 Series, will join Kaumi Kobayashi at the Swiss based outfit. Sauber took over the team once again at the start of the season, following BMW’s withdrawal from the sport.
“Formula 1 is the dream of every young racing driver,” said Perez. “And now this dream is about to come true for me.
“Although I’m very much aware that this is also a big challenge and responsibility, I’m happy to accept that and am proud to be representing my country in the highest category of motor racing.
“I would like to thank Peter Sauber for the faith he’s shown in me and I’ll do everything I can to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”
Along with a new driver, Sauber also announced a major sponsorship deal with Telmex, the telecommunications company owned by Mexican entrepreneur Carlos Slim.
“Sauber has been not only a very successful racing team but also a strong talent developer of some of the most recognised names in racing since their early stages as well as one of the most respected people in the sport,” said Telmex chairman Carlos Slim Domit, the eldest son of Slim.
“Their decision of having Sergio with them is very significant on his career to become a top driver representing Mexico. For Telmex and our racing project Escuderia Telmex it’s a great step forward, and we feel very proud to be able to consolidate these years of work for having a Mexican driver in F1 with Sauber Motorsport.”
Peter Sauber added: “Telmex has been involved in motor sport for a number of years already and supports drivers in various race series. Now they are making the key step up into the top category of motor racing, and we are happy and proud that they are taking this step with us.”
Sauber have already changed drivers this season, with Nick Heidfeld replacing Pedro de La Rosa. The German now has no seat for 2011, although he is being linked with a drive at Renault.
Pedro de la Rosa has been sacked from his position as a race driver with the Sauber team, to be replaced from the Singaporean Grand Prix by German driver Nick Heidfeld.
Heidfeld has had a long relationship with Sauber, driving for it under its private ownership in the early 2000’s, and again when it was run by BMW. He left at the end of last season and joined Mercedes Benz as a test driver, before being released to help Pirelli with their 2011 tyre testing. Now he rejoins Sauber for a race seat.
Sauber had some bad fortunes early on, but hit form recently with good finishes. The Ferrari powered car is quick, but sadly not reliable enough. Heidfeld will partner popular Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.
“It was a hard decision for me to make as a team principal and I want to thank Pedro for his professionalism,” explained Sauber. “By signing Nick we have a driver we know extremely well who will help us to further judge the comparative potential of our car.”
De la Rosa expressed his shock at the decision, which comes after he returned to the sport at the start of this season.
“I am surprised by the team´s decision, but I respect it and would like to wish everyone good luck for the remainder of the season,” he said. “I still intend to be in Formula 1 for 2011”.
Heidfeld himself added: “I’m looking forward like crazy to having the opportunity to go racing again in a good car in Formula 1 from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards. After the last months I’m even more motivated than ever.
Sauber have confirmed they will be retaining popular Japanese driver Kaumi Kobayashi for the 2011 season.
Kobayashi, 24, made his debut with Toyota at the end of the 2009 season proving popular with fans because of his dare-devil overtaking style. He went on to win a contract with the reformed Sauber team for 2010 and after a difficult initial period is now performing quite well.
“We enjoy having our rookie as part of the team – both as a driver and a person,” said team principal Peter Sauber.
“We never had any doubts about working with him again in 2011.
“Kamui has definitely fulfilled our expectations in terms of his speed and fighting spirit. Plus, his work with the engineers and his technical understanding has also developed very well.
“The experience he has built up over his first full season in Formula One will certainly stand him in good stead for 2011. And our aim is to give him a fast and reliable car from the outset next season.”
Kamui Kobayashi added:
“We had a very difficult start to the season, but we’ve worked together to pull ourselves out of that situation. I feel very much at home in Peter Sauber’s team and am very pleased we’ll be working together again in 2011.
“However, for now I’m focusing one-hundred per cent on this year. There are still six grand prix weekends to go in 2010, and we’ll be hoping to make up more ground.”
Pastor Maldonado, the talented Gp2 driver has doused the flames of rumours that he will be replacing veteran Spanish F1 driver Pedro de La Rosa for the first European race of the F1 season at the struggling Sauber team.
The Venezuelan, who attempted to get into F1 with both Stefan GP and Hispania says he has not spoken with Peter Sauber, the boss of the Swiss team and has had no approach thus far. He says he wants to concentrate on his GP2 season.
“Last year we had a possibility to go into Formula 1 but then there was a problem with Stefan GP,” he told GPUpdate.net. “We were working very closely with Campos, now Hispania Racing, but in the end our sponsors weren’t able to come up with a positive result. We’ll see.
“We are trying to move into Formula 1, for sure; it’s not easy, I think nowadays it’s difficult for every driver. You need a lot of money with the small teams. We will try to go into a middle or big team – that’s better at the moment because finding the money for a larger team is nearly impossible.”
When asked whether he is involved in talks with Sauber, Maldonado rejected the claims. “For the moment, no,” the Maracay-born driver concluded.
Independent Swiss based team Sauber will be testing a modified version of their take on McLaren’s contraversial F-Duct system this weekend in Malaysia, with the hope that modifications made to the system from its initial test in Australia will allow the team to run it for the Grand Prix on Sunday.
The F-Duct is essentially a hole which draws in air, but when the car is on the straights the driver has the opportunity to close off the hole with their leg, hand or arm and stall the air flow onto the rear wing thus giving the car a greater top speed and allowing a benefit over other cars. Sauber’s is mounted on the side pod, whereas McLaren’s is mounted on the nosecone.
It is expected if the system is proven to give a significant advantage other teams will follow suit and make their own versions of the system.
Pedro de la Rosa said: “We will run it tomorrow, to continue the testing. It is a modified version and we are trying to get on top of it.
“It is not an easy system to make it work and they have been working very hard in Hinwil to get some modifications in time – and we will see tomorrow.
“We will react accordingly. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t we will wait for another grand prix. But we are pushing 100 per cent on this.”
Pedro De la Rosa has become an ambassador for the Swiss watch brand Certina as the company increases links with the Sauber team.
Sauber have been lacking in sponsors, and currently run soley white cars but Certina have decided to continue backing the team who are based in Hinwil.
The logo’s appear on the wing mirrors of the cars, and are likely to take more of a prominent placement on the overalls in coming races.
“I am really happy to have such a reliable and dynamic partner as Certina on my side for my comeback into racing and also to be able to wear their sporty and distinguished watches,” Barcelona’s de la Rosa commented.
“With his wealth of experience and his speed, Pedro is a safe bet in Formula 1,” added Certina President Adrian Bosshard. “He is also a great sportsman, which is the ideal complement to the Certina team. I am convinced that he will move the team forward with his great technical expertise.”
Peter Sauber has revealed that his team are considering dropping the BMW part of their name following the German car manufacturer’s decision to pull out of the sport and sell the team back to him at the end of last season.
It was a surprise to many that eter Sauber kept the BMW part of the team name, especially considering that he is getting engines supplied by Ferrari but he has revealed he was hoping for a major sponsor to add to the team name.
“We will submit an application for a chassis name change, but the timing has yet to be decided,” he said when asked by Autosport Magazine about the naming situation.
“It will happen some time this season.”
He said that sponsors had been difficult to come by, and that he was disappointed his cars remained soley white.
“Today we are looking for sponsors for the 2011 season. I hope we will find some sponsors for this season.”
“If we find a title sponsor for 2011 in the middle of the year then maybe we can have them for this season too,” he added.