Has Sauber Pulled a Fast One?

With regulations remaining pretty much static between 2012 and 2013 there is little scope for innovation. The big changes, we are told, will come about in 2014 when the new engines make their debut. So far we have seen new cars from McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari, Force India, Lotus and Sauber, and have been given a glimpse of the new Mercedes, but it’s the Sauber C32, revealed at the team’s Hinwil, Switzerland base, that has got tongues wagging.

Here’s a front view – have a look at the sidepods:

sauberc32

Now, here’s a front view of the new Ferrari F138 – see the difference?

f138

The Sauber design team, led by Matt Morris, has produced a car with extremely small sidepods; the inspiration, they claim, came after Sergio Perez’s side-on shunt at Monaco in 2011. The team realised when it saw the wreckage that – if it could get the packaging right – it could drastically reduce the width of the side pods. The result is quite dramatic, and if it works, could provide a major headache for the competition.

The advantages are many: reduced drag, better direction of air to the wings and diffuser, and a general aerodynamic efficiency improvement in the overall packaging. The team is certain that, despite the radical approach, it has not taken things too far, and there is considerable confidence in the Sauber camp.

Sauber, with Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi as drivers, frequently punched above its weight last year and, despite a completely new line up of Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, is hoping to improve on that performance. One wonders whether, having been perceived as taking a sideways step from Force India, Hulkenberg has in fact taken a major step forward. The Sauber C32 could well be 2013’s dark horse.

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