Sauber's technical director Jorg Zander has placed vital importance on maximising its chassis performance over the opening rounds while the F1 grid gets up to speed with the new regulations.
After narrowly avoiding closure due to mounting debt thanks to a takeover by Longbow Finance in July, Sauber heads into 2017 with refreshed optimism despite already committing to using year-old Ferrari power units for the new season.
With this in mind, plus the feared fall in performance compared to its rivals with improving engines as seen by Toro Rosso last year, Zander says the opening rounds as vital chances for Sauber to score F1 world championship points to give it a better starting point for the 2018 season - which the Sauber boss already has one eye on.
Therefore, Zander is keen for Sauber to nail its chassis performance in the opening races while teams adapt to the new technical regulations with more freedom on aerodynamics plus the wider Pirelli tyres.
“The powertrain is sure to play a big role, but at the beginning of the season the chassis, as well as the reliability, will make the difference,” Zander said. “The vehicles will be wider, from 1.80m up to 2m. We will also have 25% wider tyres, the front and rear wing will also be wider as well as the diffusor being increased. All-in-all that means more downforce, more grip and therefore faster lap times.”
Zander has also explained how the aerodynamic changes will impact the hybrid engines with smaller braking zones and less distance and time to harvest kinetic energy.
“The apex speed will be increased as well as the air drag,” he said. “Therefore, the regulation for the energy recovery will be changed. The car will have a lower top speed, but can brake later due to the higher downforce. The braking distance therefore becomes shorter, which has an impact on the energy recovery.
“There needs to be different driving profiles and strategies in order to pick up the limited energy of 2 MJ on the MGU-K. The aero concept will again be crucial when it comes to the performance. The cars will look strong because of the wider tyres and the overall length of 2 meters. Just looking at them, you can feel the incomparable dynamic power.”
Sauber enters the 2017 season with a revised driver line-up as Pascal Wehrlein joins from Manor alongside the retained Marcus Ericsson.
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