Peter Sauber admits that the 2011 season was one of two halves for his eponymous F1 team, but insists that it is better prepared to mount a sustained assault on the forthcoming championship campaign.
Despite emerging from the remains of its dalliance with BMW, the Swiss team, began last season strongly, only to see both drivers disqualified from point-scoring positions in the Australian Grand Prix
for technical irregularities. From there, however, it only missed out on adding to its tally at one of the races through to the halfway point of the campaign but, despite continuing to push to total up in the remaining rounds, fell into the clutches of Force India
and Sauber as the year drew to a close.
"2011 was divided into two very different parts - we had a good first half and a difficult second one," Sauber confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website, "This year, we will have to allot our development resources in a way that will help us improve over the whole course of the season and help us keep and defend our position. This season, we want to have the same start as last year, but we want to keep that level of performance throughout the whole season. If we are able to do that then the final count will look more pleasant.
"But what I expect on the technical side, I also expect from the drivers - and that's progression. And I am convinced that this progression will materialise, as both [drivers] are still very young and have one more year of experience under their belt. Both will be able to bank the experience and use it to their advantage."
While Kamui Kobayashi
began the 2011 campaign as the team's number one alongside rookie Sergio Perez, the pair proved evenly matched, with the Japanese driver winning on points but losing to his young colleague in qualifying. Having been the main contributor to the team's points total through the first half of the year, Kobayashi suffered something of a drought at the start of the second half, but Sauber is adamant that there was no loss of form and that the third year driver deserves his place in the line-up.
"Kamui had a very good first half of the season, with considerable results, but couldn't carry that momentum into the second half," he reflected, "But it would be wrong to put all the blame on him, as the performance of the car was nowhere near what it had been in the first few months. When it got towards the end of the season and we were defending our position from Toro Rosso, Kamui was right there again and proved he could be depended on."
Perez, meanwhile, appeared poised to make his breakthrough shortly before suffering a heavy accident during qualifying in Monaco, and Sauber admits that the length of the Mexican's recovery took everyone by surprise.
"It took longer than we all had anticipated, [and] showed that such a concussion has longer after-effects than we all thought," he conceded, "It's true that his lap times were already good [at his first race back] in Valencia, but he still didn't feel 100 per cent well. He later confessed that it took until after the summer break to be back to normal again."
The pairing of Kobayashi and Perez will again be backed up by another Mexican, Esteban Gutierrez, and the presence of Mexican sponsors has not gone unnoticed as Sauber attempts to raise the funds to compete at a higher level.