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.
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.”
JJ Lehto, a Formula One and Le Mans veteran has had a lucky escape from a boating accident in his native Finland.
The former Benetton and Sauber driver, who also won the 2005 24h Le Mans, was sailing a vessel along the Jomalvik Canal in Finland when disaster struck on the ship. It is unknown what caused the incident, but Lehto was thrown into the water. Sadly, a friend who he was sailing with was killed.
Lehto suffered concussion and broken ribs among his injuries, and managed to swim ashore but was very confused during conversations with police according to local witnesses.
We wish him a speedy recovery.
Force India and Red Bull Racing have confirmed that they will be running F-Ducts in the practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend as they evaluate whether the air flow control mechanism is a worthy new technical advancement to their cars.
Vitantonio Liuzzi told reporters that the Force India team were very confident of their system, a system which is operated by the drivers wrist.
“We are really optimistic about it,” Liuzzi said. “You can never know. It might change tomorrow, but the team has done a big work in the wind tunnel for the last two weeks to test it and it seemed to work pretty well.
“Tomorrow we’ll get the confirmation because on track you never know, but we are pretty optimistic that it should be spot on.”
“We made a simple system with the wrist so we don’t have to take the hand off the steering wheel,” he added.
Meanwhile Red Bull Racing’s man of the moment Mark Webber told reporters in the pre-race press conference that Red Bull were to evaluate their own F-Duct system as they try and maintain their recent dominance.
“Yes, we will give the F-duct a go tomorrow,” Webber said during a pre-event press conference in Turkey. “We will give it a chance.”
Ferrari, who were one of the first teams to use the system are going to try a variation on the position of the hole that needs to be covered in order to stall the air during practice.
Formula One teams have agreed to a blanket ban on the F-Duct systems which were brought into Formula One by McLaren this season.
Combining an air vent on the front of the car with a long shark-fin style engine cover the system manipulates rear air flow, stalling it and allowing for a greater top speed. it can provide drivers with 9-10km/h more high end power, which is vital on circuits which long straights.
While McLaren came up with the idea, it has had various attempts of reincarnations of the idea by Sauber, Williams and Ferrari to differing levels of success. No-one knew how they were activated until Ferrari’s was spotted on an onboard camera this weekend as Fernando Alonso takes his left hand off the steering wheel to block the vent. Others may be operated by knees and even elbows.
Christian Horner of Red Bull, who do not have an F-Duct system, says safety is being compromised by the systems. “It is a clever piece of engineering and hats off to the guys who invented it, but some of the solutions this weekend look a bit marginal when you see drivers driving with finger tips and no hands,” he explained. “So I think there is a safety issue and a cost issue to take into account.” he said last night.
Nick Fry of Mercedes Benz who do not have an F-Duct either, but have been running a radical engine cover this weekend which has a central fin and side engine air inlets rather than a traditional roll bar, it itself being called potentially dangerous told the BBC: “The trouble with these devices is that most of the top teams, if not all the teams, will have an F-duct-type device before the end of the year”
“We’ll all have got it so we’ll have neutralised the advantage McLaren have currently got and therefore we’re just spending money on it.”
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.