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F1 Bahrain 2013: Sauber hoping for a step-up in Bahrain
15 April 2013
Nico Hülkenberg might have brought home a world championship point for Sauber at the end of the Chinese Grand Prix, but overall the team admitted to "some disappointment" following the Shanghai outing at the weekend and are targeting a step forward in the next race in Bahrain in just a few days time.
"I'm looking forward to the race in Bahrain. In 2010 I drove my first F1 Grand Prix there," Hülkenberg pointed out. I like the track, and there is always a '1001 Nights' atmosphere in the paddock."
With the race taking place at the Bahrain International Circuit located right in the middle of the desert in the country's Sakhir region, high temperatures are always a factor along with dust and high winds.
"Other than high temperatures, the brakes will play a significant role," said Hülkenberg. "There are a couple of long straights where we drive at over 300 kph and then we need to brake very hard into the corners, so it will be the usual balancing act between downforce and top speed."
"Several long straights with mainly slow and medium speed corners," summed up Tom McCullough, Sauber's head of track engineering. "This places high importance on an efficient aero package and a car with strong low speed performance, in particular traction. "The circuit layout is also very demanding for the brakes.
"The desert environment results in quite a dusty track,“ especially when the wind builds up," McCullough continued. "The chance of rainfall is low, and the typically high ambient and track temperatures make it a real challenge for the cooling level of the car and management of the tyres."
One man who won't be sorry to turn his attention to some very different track conditions is Esteban Gutiérrez, who is still smarting from his early end to the Chinese GP after running into the back of Adrian Sutil's Force India car.
"To end the Chinese Grand Prix like that was disappointing; the mistake I made not only ended my race, but I also received a five place grid penalty [for Bahrain]" which is likely to see him starting next Sunday's race very low on the grid regardless of his performance in qualifying.
"Of course, this will not make the race in Bahrain any easier, but it doesn't change my approach or my motivation," insisted Gutiérrez. "I will fight and make the best out of the situation."
Even though his Shanghai outing ended in the way it did, Gutiérrez was keen to look for the silver lining of the experience. "China also had a positive side to it - the engineers took several technical measures, which saw an improvement," he pointed out.
Compared with China, Bahrain offers Gutiérrez a level of familiarity as he's competed in Sakhir on many occasions in the past in the GP2 Series. Last year he finished one of the two features races in third places, and one of the sprint races a step higher on the podium.
"I know the track from my time in GP2, and I think it's a nice one with challenging corners. It's a very demanding track for the tyres, and I'm looking forward to driving there in a F1 car.
"The conditions are not as humid as in Malaysia, but you still have to be in good shape to cope with the heat during the race," the young Mexican racer added, hopeful that the dry desert heat would be more to his liking and provide the extra boost he needed to reboot his fledgling F1 career.