F1 2011 rookie Sergio Pérez has stressed the importance of Sauber heading into the sport's upcoming mid-summer break off the back of a run of good results – and he is confident that his superb points-scoring effort at Silverstone last time out can be replicated at the Nürburgring this weekend.
Having been forced out of the Monaco and Canadian Grands Prix due to his high-speed qualifying accident in Monte Carlo, Pérez rejoined the grid in Valencia last month, missing out on the points by just one position in eleventh.
The young Mexican ably atoned for that disappointment, however, by storming to his best result in F1 to-date in the following British Grand Prix with an eye-catching seventh place, and he is optimistic that the Nürburgring – home to the German Grand Prix, the tenth round on the 2011 world championship calendar – will similarly play to the strengths of Sauber's Ferrari-powered C30.
“After Silverstone, the Nürburgring is another historical racetrack and, like in the UK, is in another country where I have lived,” the 21-year-old reflected. “I am very much looking forward to going back to Germany and having a good race there. For me, after having missed two grands prix this year, it is very important now to push forward for the rest of the season and especially before the summer break, which is a very intense period with three races in one month.
“I also drove on the Nordschleife once in a road car; obviously it is an amazing track. On the modern circuit, one of my favourites is the chicane in the last sector, which I enjoy a lot. I also think the circuit should suit our car quite well and, summing it all up, we should have a good race there.”
“I have only raced once at the Nürburgring, and this was when I drove in GP2 in 2009,” added team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, who also marked a personal 'best' in Britain by tallying his highest-ever F1 qualifying position in eighth. “In those races, I finished ninth and third.
“I remember it being quite a tricky and difficult circuit because it goes up-and-down quite a lot. Nevertheless, I expect with it being a fast track again, like Silverstone, it should be good for us. We know in high-speed corners we are very strong, so hopefully we can show a good performance again. I'm very much looking forward to it. I also like swapping the tracks in Germany, as it is nice to have a variety.”
Having scored points in all-bar-one of the grands prix in 2011 to-date – although the double haul achieved in the Melbourne curtain-raiser was subsequently taken away again – Sauber currently sits a lonely but impressive sixth in the constructors' standings, some way behind Mercedes Grand Prix and Lotus Renault GP but, by the same token, comfortably clear of the likes of Scuderia Toro Rosso, Force India F1 and Williams behind. The Hinwil-based outfit's technical director James Key warns there can be no let-up if the team is to stay there.
“The Nürburgring is quite a mixed circuit with different features, which makes it hard to characterise,” the Englishman opined. “Good braking stability is important into Turn One, where there is a potential overtaking opportunity. The first sector is relatively low-speed, or at least it is after Turn One which results in a car that needs good traction and good levels of downforce; then there is a high-speed section down to the hairpin, which presents another overtaking opportunity.
“The second half to the lap is relatively high-speed. Primarily, it consists of medium and slow-speed corners and a couple of relatively long straights with a chicane at the end and a difficult last corner. It is a challenge for the engineers and drivers to try and get it right, particularly in qualifying. It's going to be an interesting weekend, because there are many different challenges with the big mix of corners and straights.
“The tyre compounds will be medium and soft. We know the medium tyres were a little tricky in Canada, so we have to work on them; the softs should be okay. The car will continue with the updates we brought to Silverstone, which worked well, and we will have a further small update on the diffuser and the rear brake ducts. After our good performance at Silverstone, we look forward to carrying that momentum forward and trying to score more points in Germany.”