(Motorsport-Total.com) – Anyone who predicted before the start of the 2022 Formula 1 season in Bahrain that Alfa Romeo would finish fourth in the World Builders’ Championship after the first race would have been described as obsessed by many. Besides Haas, Swiss Sauber Racing was the team facing the most technical issues during winter testing. Both C41 were not expected to see the checkered flag and also score points.
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Guanyu Zhou managed to compete with Lewis Hamilton at times in the race
On the outside, there are three main components to this sudden success. First: weight. Almost all cars as of 2022 have exceeded the minimum weight limit of 798 kg. Some are said to be up to 20 kilos. According to rumors, Alfa Romeo is said to be the only team that doesn’t carry much extra weight.
This is a “very important point,” analyzes Marc Saurer, a Swiss television expert who has traditionally been a Sauber sympathizer. Interview on Formel1.de YouTube channelwhich since Tuesday exclusively for channel members It can be seen and will be activated for all users from Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve heard that some of them weigh more than 20 kilos. That’s five to six tenths,” says Surer.
The former Formula 1 driver thinks this is a “big advantage”, but it is likely that sooner or later other teams will catch up, “because they will then equip their cars with lighter parts and at some point they will also be at a lower weight”.
‘Tire Whisperer’: Does Weight Help, Too?
The second key element: tires. Without the Safety Car stage after Pierre Gasly’s retirement, Valtteri Bottas (6) and Guanyu Zhou (10) would have had two stops. Like everyone else (except McLaren), the two started on softer C3 (Soft) and then completed two stints on C2 (Medium).
“We made a conscious decision to save two sets of Medium for the race because we knew Medium was more powerful at this track and because we planned to extend our periods a bit,” chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar explains.
“If you have to push because you’re in a duel, you can’t go easy on the tires, and the Medium was a better fit for that. But we didn’t want the C1 either because it had a lot less grip. So we had fewer tires in qualifying, but we still managed Good luck with both cars.”
“In the race, we then noticed that our opponents were going through different scenarios. We were aiming for two stops from the start, with two middle sets. Even without the safety car at the end, we would have looked good, because both cars had gone through the least component stops,” Pogular is convinced.
By the way, the C42’s tire-friendly characteristics and weight advantage can be directly related. Because less weight means less load, and less load means less tire wear. Plus the roughly three-tenths of a second per lap you get in Bahrain if you’re ten kilos lighter.
A competitive Ferrari engine again in 2022
Third: the engine. Saurer notes that Ferrari is in a “better” position than it has been in the past two years. “They suffered from it.” Now Ferrari is said to have one of the best engines, if not the best in the business.
Surer also sees another advantage, which is Hinwil’s wind tunnel: “Sauber has the best wind tunnel. Even the FIA worked at Sauber for their tests for the new regulations. It’s well known in Formula 1 that they have a wind tunnel that gives really real data. And with the new regulations, it’s coming.” its fruits.”
And of course the drivers: “Sometimes Giovinazzi puts the car in the top 10,” says Surer. “I saw that the potential was already there, but the pilots sometimes couldn’t cancel it. Kimi was in his last year.” Raikkonen was “tired”, the Swiss believed, and sometimes appeared “lack of spirit”, especially in qualifying sessions.
Now, on the other hand, the team has “two pilots, one who knows how to do it and the other wants to prove something.” Cho in particular, who finished third in Formula 2 behind Oscar Piastre and Robert Schwarzman in 2021, was a positive surprise.
Zhou convinces with a tire-friendly driving style
After 44 of 57 laps, before the safety car stage, he was five seconds behind Bottas. This corresponds to a difference of an average of one tenth of a second per lap. “We saw during testing that he was very good at managing long periods. When we told him what to do, he was very good at doing it,” says Bogular.
“The big question mark was whether he could do that in the race when he got into duels. It’s one thing to keep the tires when you’re driving alone, but when you have other drivers around you it becomes more difficult. But he did it just like last week If not better.”
During testing, we stayed “on the conservative side” in this regard, says Pogular, “but he kept the tires better in the race than the more experienced drivers. He fought with other beginners, and he fought with the experienced drivers. Q2 in qualifying, point in the race : This first race was so strong. We couldn’t have asked for more of it.”
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“We are now seeing what can be achieved with a good car, good drivers and a good team,” Pogular says confidently. “After the poor start, we thought it would be difficult to catch up. But since there was no pressure from the back, we were able to manage the tires well.”
The only downside was the start in Bahrain. Bottas lost eight places on the first lap, and Chu lost four places. The two started their race to catch up from P14/19. “We’re still struggling with the starts,” admits Pogular. “We’ve made progress, but we’re still very fragile.” According to Bottas, every second start fails. This should improve.
Overall, they are now working under high pressure to bring updates from Hinwil to the racetrack. But the groundwork was laid: “Our reliability was still very shaky during the first test,” says Pogular. “It was a little better the second time around. But we know we still have room for improvement.”
“We’ve taken the next step into this weekend’s race and hopefully we’ll take another step for Jeddah. If we get a little safer on the side we can push more. I think it’s very tight in midfield. But I think we can get a say in that.”
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