Sauber have described the new C31 as a 'radical evolution' following the cars launch today at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit in Spain.
Summarising all the efforts put into developing the new C31, chief designer Matt Morris explained while they have pushed the envelope with some elements, offers are far more of an evolutionary nature: “The C31 is revolutionary where we had fresh ideas, particularly at the rear of the car, and it is an evolution where we knew we could carry over certain approaches. We had to improve on the weaknesses we identified on the C30, but at the same time we wanted to maintain its strengths,” he stated.
One of the goals with the C31 was to increase the scope of the operating envelope compared to its predecessor.
“We had established some good directions to go in towards the end of last year with the C30 which we wanted to continue with, particularly some of our DRS developments, and some of the ways we were opting for with the car's set up in order to improve our qualifying performance without compromising our race pace,” Morris elaborated. “The biggest change coming from the new technical regulations is that the exhaust position had to be moved away from the floor, which has required quite a new approach.”
Meanwhile, the team again opted to go with a high chassis design. However, according to the new 2012 regulations, the nose cone needs to be lower, which is a safety requirement. As a result, the nose cone has quite a different shape to how it was in the past, hence the stepped design.
Packaging has also been 'further optimised' under the side pods in order to open up more aerodynamic development scope in that area: “The cooling layout is based around a similar philosophy to the C30, because that proved to be effective. It helps to get the volume of the coolers forward and allows the design of very compact rear bodywork,” the team explained.
At the rear, the car is much more tightly packaged, and in addition the engineers have gone in some new directions around the floor at the back of the car.
“Because of the new definition in the rules we know that the disadvantages we had last year with a lack of the strong exhaust effect will be less of an issue for us now. As a result we evolved further our directions from C30 regarding the overall aero development of the car,” Morris added.
As with virtually all of the new cars, a number of new parts and developments are planned prior to F1 2012 season opener in Australia.
“The current plan is to launch a fairly basic roll-out version of the car, which was defined quite some time ago,” Morris summed-up. “We will then be testing development parts during the upcoming weeks with a late upgrade for the first race on 18th March in Australia. Therefore the car will look quite different in Melbourne compared to the roll-out car.”