After all the talking during winter testing, the season finally started with the first two free practice sessions of the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne. The two Sauber F1 Team drivers, Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez, finished tenth and 15th respectively. While Esteban was quite happy with the day, Nico feels there is still quite a bit of work left to do.
The Sauber F1 Team is celebrating 20 years in Formula One. Debuting at the South African Grand Prix in Kyalami in March 1993, JJ Lehto finished fifth. During these 20 years the team claimed 27 podiums, including a one-two with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld at the Canadian Grand Prix in 2008. This weekend the nose cone of the Sauber C32-Ferrari carries a special anniversary decal.
Nico Hülkenberg: Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 02/Ferrari 056) – 1st Practice: 12. / 1:28.786 min (19 laps) / 2nd Practice 10. / 1:28.187 min (34 laps) “Overall it was a challenging day. On the first day there are always a few things you need to work on and improve. I think we still have some homework to do. Free Practice two was quite difficult for me because of traffic. I think we can still improve our time. We collected a lot of data for the tyres and if we do our homework well we should be able to aim at the top ten qualifying tomorrow.”
Esteban Gutiérrez: Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari 056) – 1st Practice: 16. / 1: 30.203 min (17 laps) / 2nd Practice 15. / 1:28.772 min (33 laps) “It was a very productive day. The tyres are getting better, and not as critical as in Barcelona. As a team we need to find more speed, and that means me as a driver as well. I’ve improved from free practice one to free practice two. Now I will focus on improving for qualifying tomorrow.”
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: “The weather was good to us today, which allowed us to evaluate both tyre specifications as well as some development parts on the car. We had a small problem on Esteban’s car in P1 which cost us a few laps, but we got out back on track. Overall, we have some work to do on the car’s balance, but we are reasonably happy how it performed. We now need to go and look at our data and make the most of it for qualifying and the race.”