Sauber’s driver line-up invites comparisons with the past. The last time they had two such inexperienced drivers, with just one full season of F1 between them, was 2001.
Ten years ago, with Kimi Raikkonen in one car and Nick Heidfeld in the other, they finished a best-ever fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Are Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez a match for that pairing?
And will James Key’s C30 prove as effective as Sergio Rinland’s innovative twin-keel C20?
It certainly looked good for the team yesterday when Sergio Perez headed the testing times in Barcelona. But we all know to treat testing times with caution.
Still the team go into 2011 on a much surer footing than they did last year. Twelve months ago the team were still reeling from the BMW pull-out and the near-miss of almost disappearing from the grid entirely.
The technical side of the team is more settled and the new car was ready from the off. It’s accumulated a decent amount of testing mileage so far.
It may not have any eye-catching special features like fancy exhausts or a blade roll-hoop, but with Ferrari’s race-winning Kinetic Energy Recovery Ststem the team are well-equipped for the midfield battle.
The young driver pairing is classic Peter Sauber.
In a short space of time the name ‘Kobayashi’ has already become synonymous with gutsy overtaking moves. But his best finish last year came in a more ordinary race at Silverstone, showing there’s more than one side to his game.
Perez has mixed flashes of pace with inconsistency on his way up the motor racing ladder.
He brings backing from Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex with him but he has proved his potential in the junior formulae.
He was GP2 runner-up to new Williams driver Pastor Maldonado last year, despite Maldonado having two years’ more experience in the category.
This is a team that until recently finished in the top three in the championship two years running. The backing of BMW may have gone but Sauber’s potential remains.
With a pair of exciting young drivers they should be a team to keep an eye on in 2011.
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