The Ferrari-powered C31 is the best car in Sauber’s long history, according to team founder, boss and majority owner Peter Sauber.
The Swiss team made its grand prix debut with Mercedes’ support in 1993 and even won a race during the recent era of BMW ownership. But the white and grey C31 is the best yet, Sauber said, after Sergio Perez returned to the podium in last weekend’s Canadian grand prix.
Some in F1 circles, however, have largely overlooked Sauber’s strength in 2012.
“It’s true, we have to improve in qualifying,” Peter Sauber, 68, told the Swiss newspaper Blick.
In March, Mexican Perez finished second behind race winner Fernando Alonso.
Sauber commented: “For me, this result (Canada) is more valuable than the second place in Malaysia. Canada was a completely normal race — no rain, no safety car, and the only retirement (in front of Perez) was Schumacher.
“I repeat: Hinwil has built the best car we have had since entering formula one in 1993,” Sauber insisted. “75 per cent of the success is solely in the area of aerodynamics, and we are now the envy of most of our opponents.”
It is with frustration, then, that Sauber contemplates Bahrain and Monaco, where Perez and Kamui Kobayashi failed to score even a single point.
“It’s annoying,” he said, “because the C31 is ideal for all types of circuit. We are competitive everywhere.”
Asked if the drivers are a weakness, Sauber answered: “That is a difficult question. Kobayashi is a great guy. I love his attitude and he will have success with us.”
And referring to Perez’s occasional mistakes, Sauber explained: “Well, Sergio is fast and he’s easy on the tyres. In your second year you can still make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it!” he smiled.
Nevertheless, Sauber is currently sixth in the ultra-competitive 2012 championship.
“To be within striking distance of the silver arrows (Mercedes) is a good feeling,” he admitted.