Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Sauber Launches

Red-Bull Sauber-Petronas (hereafter referred to as Sauber) launched their challenger, the C23, yesterday. It certainly isn't as groundbreaking as the Williams car, but it is unlikely that anyone else will be this year. Otherwise, the biggest surprise to me is how flat the front and rear wings are. Common wisdom over the past few years has had the front wing seriously dipped in the middle, in order to get it as close to the ground as possible, while remaining within the rules that govern the altitude of the endplates. Likewise, last year a number of teams (particularly Renault) were shaping their rear wings to minimize the drag induced by vortex shedding. Sauber seem to have rejected that approach as well, and are showing a very flat surface. Despite a fairly good pair of drivers in Fisichella and Massa, I don't anticipate that Sauber will be doing much to improve its middle of the pack position this year. I will definitely be surprised if they make it to the position of "Best of the Rest" (i.e., best team who isn't Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, and maybe Renault).