Sauber C31 launch, Jerez, 2012

Sauber C31 launch – first pictures and video of Sauber’s 2012 F1 car

2012 F1 cars

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Sauber have unveiled their contender for the 2012 F1 championship.

The C31 was revealed today in Jerez and will be driven by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez this season.

Sauber finished seventh in the championship last year. However just days before the launch of their new car the team announce technical director James Key, who had been with them since 2010, was leaving the squad.

Chief designer Matt Morris says the team’s 2012 F1 car is a combination of new ideas and concepts developed from its predecessor.

Following the launch of the Sauber C31 in Jerez, Morris said: “The C31 is revolutionary where we had fresh ideas, particularly at the rear of the car, and it is an evolution where we knew we could carry over certain approaches. We had to improve on the weaknesses we identified on the C30, but at the same time we wanted to maintain its strengths.

“We had established some good directions to go in towards the end of last year with the C30 which we wanted to continue with, particularly some of our DRS developments, and some of the ways we were opting for with the car’s set up in order to improve our qualifying performance without compromising our race pace.”

Morris added he expects the ban on exhaust-blown diffusers to help the team: “Because of the new definition in the rules we know that the disadvantages we had last year with a lack of the strong exhaust effect will be less of an issue for us now. As a result we evolved further our directions from C30 regarding the overall aero development of the car.”

He added the car “will look quite different in Melbourne” once further upgrades are added to it.

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Sauber C31 pictures

Kamui Kobayashi driving the Sauber C31

2012 F1 cars

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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132 comments on “Sauber C31 launch – first pictures and video of Sauber’s 2012 F1 car”

  1. No Sauber! :( I’m gutted to see they’ve changed their livery. My opinion isn’t too popular on this, but last year’s Sauber was one of the best looking cars I’ve ever seen for both shape and livery. I don’t know what it was about it, but I just loved the look of it. It looked like a missile or something. This isn’t exactly ugly, but it’s no-where near as good as the car they had last year. I’m disappointed. If they absolutely had to change the livery, I think they should have gone with something a bit more fun. All they’ve done is ruin it. :(

    At least the shape isn’t too bad. Very interesting engine cover!

    1. I agree, I liked last years Sauber, this just looks plain and boring, no front on shots so I can’t really comment on the nose, but they obviously have the step, I just hope its worked into both the body and the livery nicely. And they really need a main sponser to fill the side pod.

    2. The cover seems interesting… but those side pods are pratically non-existant. They are tiny! Does the Ferrari lump at the back need any air at all?

    3. I think the extra black makes it a bit more tough looking…….or maybe that’s the wheels.
      Also, is that the white (medium) tyres they have on? They decided to match the colours lol.

      1. I’m with you. It feels so much more aggressive with this livery. I love it.

    4. Urgh they’ve made the livery worse! It’s like they decided to paint the whole thing black but gave up when they got to the middle.

      1. I’ve softened to it already. I think it was the initial shock and disappointment of seeing they’d changed the livery that made me type such a negative comment, but I actually… kind of like it now!

        The nose isn’t actually that bad (although I’m inclined to say anything looks good when it doesn’t have a nose as hideous as Ferrari’s) and the step doesn’t seem to be as noticeable as it is on other cars. Overall, I think this is the best shape we’ve seen so far, and the livery is growing on me. If there was a smoother transition between the grey and the white, it would probably go a long way towards making it look better. The sidepods also need a bit more colour. If the grey from the back end of the engine cover curved around to the sidepods, it might improve its overall appearance. Otherwise, I think a simple sponsor logo would enhance the plain sides of the car.

        I’d quite like to see the Sauber completely grey, however. The wind tunnel model of the C30 looked very smart in grey, actually. I still think I preferred their livery last year.

        1. Grey would be awesome, a bit like the classic black and white Sauber livery in 1993/4 when they first entered the sport.

        2. Looks more like black to me…

          The livery reminds me of a cow, that was my first impression. The NEC and Claro logo might not work well with a full black car. Although it would have been better to go full black, but Peter Sauber stated he likes white. So I don’t know why the car is now only 1/3 white. Although he mentioned the cars would be hard to tell apart with white. So they kind of made a compromise.

          Would be interesting to see in full black…

    5. Dude you don’t get it. Making the nose black was a stroke of genius. It really lessens the ugliness of the nose and making you focus your eyes in the brighter areas away from it.

    6. agree… what a lame paint job. It’s just a mess of stickers and two bits of grey…

      And the car itself doesn’t look particularly pretty either…

      1. Also agree. The livery is just awful

    7. I’ll be completely honest, I couldn’t tell the difference in the livery until I went to Google to check. I see the difference now but be it 2011 or 2012 the livery looks boring as hell. Half black, half white just the line is in a different spot.

    8. Actually I like the new livery more. I’m also warming up to the ugly stepped noses. I think these two things combined make the car look very aggressive.

    9. I was literally about to write exactly the same post @damonsmedley I distinctly remember someone senior at Sauber saying that the livery was going to be ‘something special’ in 2012…looks like they forgot.

      I was hoping for the old blue/yellow design.

      1. You do realise the Red Bull/Petronas age is over and they have no reason to paint it that way again?

    10. I think this is the ugliest car to be revealed so far.

    11. Well, I think last year’s Sauber was one of the worst looking if not the worst. The new paint job looks much more agressive. I really love the black rims.

  2. whoa, it’s totally black! and white! looks kinda empty in the middle though.. they need a primary sponsor

    1. Yeah, the absence of the ‘Sauber Club One’ logo that was seen on the sidepods of the C30 is very noticeable. Hopefully someone can ‘shop it on and we’ll see if it looks any better!

    2. When a team that did relatively decent can’t get a decent sponsor to put on the side of the car it shows that ether smaller teams have a bad marketing department or that it’s really too hard to get a good sponsor.
      Do you have to be a top 3 team to get a main sponsor now?

    3. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      6th February 2012, 18:10

      Sponsored by the film Kung Fu Panda or maybe the WWF

  3. Aggressive nose like the Ferrari. The black hides it a bit though.

    1. Very clever that black. The man who thought it should get a bonus.

      1. I agree it takes away the attention from the nose if it were white it would shine like owen wilsons nose.

    2. Without the paint scheme, I think Ferrari actually had a better-looking nose, as far as these platypus monstrosities go. And Force India’s look a bit better still.

      Let’s see what RBR rolls out in 1.5 hours — hopefully something different. So far we have a conservative-looking nose (McLaren) and … the platypuses. Looking forward to something genuinely innovative.

      1. My bet is the RBR “nose solution” will have something along the lines of the Lotus and of course Toro rosso will follow suit..
        It would be great if they came up with something completely different though.. Like a corkscrew nose (patent pending !)

  4. The livery looks a bit like the first HRT. But the design of the car looks much more agressive and different to what we saw on the C30. I’m not talking about the nose,but the rear end engine cover and the wing itself

    1. I agree it looks like they really improved it in all aspects. It looks like it will be a good improvement aerodynamically from last year.
      The problem is how are they going to proceed now that Key left them. Is it going to affect the during the year?

  5. As much as I love Sauber, sorry but that is plain HIDEOUS!!!

  6. Sauber’s always look unfinished at their launches… you could confuse this for an HRT with the lack of sponsorship or imagination

    Hopefully it will be a bit more ‘sponsored’ by the time we get to AUS

    1. i don’t agree about hrt. The livery last year was good, lack of sponsors aside, with the checkered flag, and colors.

  7. Another broken nose. Is it McLaren or everybody else who got it wrong?

    1. Time will tell :)

    2. fingers crossed – everyone else! :)

    3. McLaren’s typically have a low nose compared to others anyway. The “vein” that sits under the nose could go a long way to mitigate the issues of a low nose.

      Also McLaren want to boost sales of the MP4-12C, and having the only car on the grid that doesn’t look ugly could be a good strategy.

      1. Also McLaren want to boost sales of the MP4-12C, and having the only car on the grid that doesn’t look ugly could be a good strategy.

        you’re joking right?

      2. I had to laugh at this…

        But it raises an interesting point. Back when the SLR came out, Mercedes decided to slap that faux-F1-nose on that, and the SLK… Just because of perversion I want to see a Ferrari Enzo successor with the stepped nose.

        1. The MP4-12C already has a flappy rear wing.

          OK, so it’s for braking rather than DRS, but still. ;)

          1. The 458 Italia has Red Bull’s flexy front wing… Sort of. :P

    4. wait till redbull car launch..

    5. Ron Dennis hasn’t slept! Whitmarsh hasn’t been seen or heard of and rumour has it, Jenson and Lewis both went and purchased electric sanders and have been googling pictures of Alain Prost’s nose.

    6. I honestly think that the Red Bull launch will tell us. If Adrian Newey thinks something is a good idea, it rarely isn’t!

      So if Red Bull turn up with a Ferrari style nose, McLaren may be sweating a little bit.

      1. Nobody nose what Adrian nose! :)

        1. I see what you did there…

    7. Hopefully everybody else ;)

    8. I think no one got it wrong or right. Mclaren can simply do that because the aerodynamic path they where on was a different path from Red Bull and most of others that followed the example of Red Bull.
      Even there last year nose was low enough to get through the regulations and that car was the second best.
      I don’t think that if Mclaren end-up being not very good it will especially because of the nose.
      If they are the fastest though then many will start wondering.

      1. I think that, even if Mclaren lose to Red Bull, I think it shows to the strength of the team that they can go in a completely different direction to Red Bull and still produce competitive cars.

    9. McLaren, though, are keeping their secrets well hidden – at least for now.

      “Our exhaust was made of plastic, you will never see these components in this form again,” Whitmarsh admitted to Auto Moto und Sport.

      “The new car will not look the same in Jerez and in the season opener in Australia it will look very different.

      “We spent the week in Idiada (Spain) doing an aero test on a series of new parts for the car that were on it in Woking.”

    10. McLaren does not have a broken nose,Everyone with the stepped nose is

  8. stepped nose… more like ferrari type….

  9. Sauber and Ferrari are now tied for the ugliest nose of 2012.

    Sauber really looks like they cut some expenditures in the livery department.

    1. Yep, and the diagonal parts of the livery aren’t even at the same angle – which looks odd to me!

      The rest of the bodywork looks pretty bloody mean though.

  10. Well I hope it’s quick, though the livery I’m not sure about.

  11. Ryan Williams (@)
    6th February 2012, 10:12

    Nose looks similar to that on the Caterham. Personally, I think it’s one of the prettiest cars so far, second to the Lotus. The livery is okay but Sauber could’ve gone for something more colourful, like what they ran in 2004/05

  12. Tom (@tomforpresident)
    6th February 2012, 10:12

    things that make you go hmm?

    1. Hmmmmmmm…

  13. I can’t believe how many of the cars have that ridiculous nose, I was hoping it’d just be Caterham making a huge mistake! … This livery is nice though, I like! :)

  14. That livery is simply awful. Very dissapointed.

    The car itself is interesting. The rear of the engine cover looks different, small sidepods.

    Not a fan of Sauber though, hopefully can’t match the Force India.

    1. @Silverkeg That’s it. I’m kicking you out of the Collantine Cup for that! :P

      1. @magnificent-geoffrey Loving your new avatar. I see what you did there. :D

    2. The FI actually looks good, but now, I just hope they fail:P

  15. I don’t care nose much since Ferrari, but the livery is horrible.

  16. First though: They really haven’t made that livery work with the sponsorship.

    1. @keithcollantine

      And that with the little amount of sponsors there are.
      I’m usually a fan of simple race designs, like the Gulf Porsches, Oreca Vipers, or the Gitanes Matras… However, gray has never really been a race car colour. And mixed with the vast amount of differently coloured sponsors, as you mentioned, it all fals apart really.

      Even worse, I don’t think there’s a connection whatsoever between the car and the sponsoring.

      If you ask me in a week or 2 what’s the sponsor’s name on the airbox of the Sauber I probably won’t know.

  17. i like it

  18. urmm.. always loved how deep sauber make the overhead air intake but other than that. meh..

    really hoping mclaren have done a red bull this year and found something that the other teams ahvent with their front end..

  19. I hated last years Sauber, but this is even worse. They’ve even managed to make the livery worse, and that was the the least imaginative part of the car already last year.

  20. I wanted Suaber to paint the car black again…but I meant paint the whole thing black, don’t just get bored at the suspension mounts and give up! Worst F1 livery for a looooong time!

  21. I like the livery this year, a lot cleaner than last year.

  22. Does anyone else feel like they’re getting accustomed to the stepped noses already? :s

    1. nope, not even a little.

    2. I think I am, actually.

  23. Interesting wheel design.
    The rest is rather… Unsurprising. I wonder if they keep the exhaust like that, as it seems like they neither try to aim for the rear wing, nor the brake winglets.

  24. Tom (@tomforpresident)
    6th February 2012, 10:24

    livery aside, from the step nose back i think it looks like a neat little package, i like it, just not to look at.

  25. Would it be rude if I was sick all over myself?

    1. No. It would be rude if you were sick all over someone else though.

  26. soundscape (@)
    6th February 2012, 10:31

    Like or dislike aside, I think the car looks… slow. Something about that front angle, and the lines over/around the side-pods. Something’s just off about it.

  27. I assume the round ‘hoop’ on the sidepod (next to the barge boards) are designed to create a vortex next to the side pod. If this helps suck more air to the rear of the car to generate more downforce, expect other teams to copy it before the season start.

  28. i cant wait for testing to start, because we will finally stop talking about how the cars look. (i hope at least to some extent)

    its like discussing Footballer’s hairstyles before the season. i’m not really that interested.

    1. Good point

    2. I think Peter Sauber’s hairstyle is by far the most aerodynamic.

    3. Great point! As we should all know by now, most of the teams are either disguising or hiding all their secrets anyway.

  29. Im amazed how many people are colour blind saying there is too much “black” when quite clearly its a shade of dark metallic Grey.

    I like it, its clean and simple. Loving the engine cover, and that front wing looks interesting (if not new I had not spotted it before) it has 2 sections towards the outer edges which curve upwards and inwards towards the rear of the wing directing air inboard of the front tyres.

    1. Tom (@tomforpresident)
      6th February 2012, 10:51

      @justingt5 i believe they like to call it ‘graphite’

  30. can’t make my mind up about this one. shame they got rid of those chunky wheel rims they used last year. they were cool.

  31. oh well…at least Ferrari aren’t going to have the fugliest car of the year after all

    this 1 really takes the biscuit!

  32. The more of these stepped noses I see coming out from under the veils, the more I wonder if McLaren’s choice to be different is simply due to a desire to have a pretty car rather than for performance reasons

    1. Argh, i wish people would stop this nonsense.

      Mclaren have ran a lower bulkhead/nose than anyone for the past couple of seasons. Everyone who is going with this stepped nose now, are the ones who ran higher bulkheads/noses in previous seasons. Its just a design philosophy, neither is going to be a game changer. Mclaren are just doing what they know works with their car already.

      1. ….and they have have the best front end grip.
        Unfortunately not at the rear which the front heavily effects, you are correct its what they understand. Time will tell if they should have changed their philosophy, but it has work to a degree in recent sessions.

  33. Strangely enough, I really like this car. I was a little apprehensive when I first saw the step in the nose of the Sauber, but after properly looking at it, I think it’s fantastic.

    The livery looks much better than in previous years, in my opinion, and the car looks very aggressive. I honestly think that Sauber and Force India could do very well this year (if they’re not plagued by reliability issues).

  34. The image quality on some of the studio shots wasn’t great so I’ve had a fiddle in Photoshop and uploading some better-looking ones.

  35. broken nose aside, i love it! sweet livery, hopefully it’ll preform well.

  36. Am I the only one that loves the livery? Admittedly, the sponsors still look like they’re been fired out of a sticker-gun, but the black/grey is a stroke of genius.

    1. You’re not the only one! I like the livery much better this year!

  37. Oh dear, I thought late MJ who has worst nose job. But this….it’s unaccepted.

  38. Even with the questionable nose, I don’t particularly like this one. The livery makes it look like it’s being eaten by shadows, or like a badly attempted colour scheme on a Need for Speed game.

  39. I’m liking all the 2012 car now, used to them, the exception is the Ferrari which is horrible but maybe that is an expectation thing, you expect a Ferrari to look good.

    Is this the first car where the exhaust is not blowing anything, there doesn’t seem to even be an attempt as blowing the rear wing or duct winglets. In fact the exhaust is way, way forward.

  40. Of the six cars launched so far, only the Mclaren have conformed to the spirit of the low nose regulation.
    This also goes to show that rules and restrictions need to be well thought out, and regulations should not be rushed in to counteract design trends.
    If the nose regulation had been based on the centre line reference of the front wheel nut, give or take a few millimeters, there would have been little room for circumventing such a regulation.
    What we have now is a regulation to lower the nose of the cars yet some cars even have a higher nose than the previous year.

    1. only the Mclaren have conformed to the spirit of the low nose regulation.

      I think you’re on dodgy ground talking about the “spirit” of the regulations. The rules specify what height the nose has to be at different points. It does not say what shape the chassis must be between those points.

      The 2012 cars were widely expect to look like this, McLaren are the exception so far. That does not make their approach “right” and their rivals’ “wrong”, or vice-versa, just “different”.

      1. Well Keith.

        If I am correct, the concept behind the regulation for the front bulkhead, is to achieve a lower nose profile, for safety reasons. The FIA have stated the need to prevent cars from being launched upwards after a collision. It is a known fact, the tip of the nose is where the launch begins and not the bulkhead.

        Mclaren’s recent design philosophy some how coincides with the new regulations. So it isn’t out of the goodness of their hearts, or the willingness to act in good faith, they didn’t go for a higher nose profile. Had Mclaren run a higher nose last season, they’ve most likely have gone with the stepped nose this season.

        My take on the stepped nose, is that the FIA in trying to achieve something, inadvertently created the loop holes that created the stepped nose profile.
        Perhaps they had reasoned, that the teams will design the cars with the slope starting much earlier before the bulkhead, and resulting in a much reduced nose tip height.

        So it isn’t about who is right or wrong, but that the regulation doesn’t achieve what it created for in the first place.

      2. Well Keith.

        If I am correct, the concept behind the regulation for the front bulkhead, is to achieve a lower nose profile, for safety reasons. The FIA have stated the need to prevent cars from being launched upwards after a collision. It is a known fact, the tip of the nose is where the launch begins and not the bulkhead.

        Mclaren’s recent design philosophy some how coincides with the new regulations. So it isn’t out of the goodness of their hearts, or the willingness to act in good faith, they didn’t go for a higher nose profile. Had Mclaren run a higher nose last season, they’ve most likely have gone with the stepped nose this season.

        My take on the stepped nose, is that the FIA in trying to achieve something, inadvertently created the loop holes that created the stepped nose profile.
        Perhaps they had reasoned, that the teams will design the cars with the slope starting much earlier before the bulkhead, and resulting in a much reduced nose tip height.

        So it isn’t about who is right or wrong, but that the regulation doesn’t achieve what it was created for in the first place.

  41. The car itself looks pretty tidy. Compact and conventional, pretty much what you’d expect from Sauber. The rear and sidepods in particular look very compact.

    I can’t understand what they’ve done with the livery. Why all the black? Why is the black/white division at the front bordered in red, whereas at the front they’ve used silver? Given the non-complementing colours in the Claro, NEC and Telmex logos, surely a plain white livery would have served them better? I’m no expert in design so perhaps someone can enlighten me, but to my eye it looks a complete mess.

  42. Is it just me or is this car a lot like the Ferrari?

    1. @Solo I don’t agree – look at the sidepods and exhaust position on the Ferrari:

      Ferrari F2012 key changes explained

      1. Yes but the shape of the engine cover is very similar. Also the nose is too and not just the step but those thick “what you call them i have no idea” that hold the frond wing.

  43. Richard F150 - I am not a truck
    6th February 2012, 11:31

    What’s that thing connected to the beam wing?
    Looks almost f-duct’y?

    1. It’s a support for the rear wing. Similar to Virgin’s last year:

  44. The engine cover is normal?I mean isn’t too small.I can see the suspension arms are uncovered.Is this legal?They have an interesting car but the livery is just horrible :(.

  45. It looks like all the other ones.

    The story of these launches shouldn’t be the ugly nose parade, it should be the total lack of variety and new ideas. I’m praying that Newey finds something interesting to do with this year’s regs.

  46. Does a gold nose make the STR a duckbilled platypus?

    Secret insight into the RB8

    1. Love the F2012 reference “Not so much Maranello as Manilow”.

      Can almost hear Felipe singing:

      “Well you came and you drove without overtaking
      And I sent you ahead, oh Nandy
      And you passed me and stopped me from winning
      And your faster than me today, oh Nandy”

  47. It’s like as if Sauber wanted to go back to C12 scheme but had a change of heart at the last minute.

    Also, that’s the skinniest duckbill we’ve seen so far. Koba better be careful with those!

  48. The best looking picture is the one of a smiling Perez without the car.

  49. Sauber is taking “The ugliest car of the year” competition quite seriously. They’re serious championship contender in that race for sure!

  50. Trying to find a simgle redeeming quality… nope, it’s not working.

    Livery looks like somebody slapped a lot of stickers on it at random.

  51. This is easily my favorite Sauber livery of the last few years. I feel like they could bring a bit more detail and complexity to it, but I like this direction. It’s aggressive and distinct.

  52. At least they had a “try” at creating an appealing livery this year, thats all you can really say

  53. black rims black livery it looks badass may not be pretty but it looks aggressive.

  54. Black rims always look badass!!!

  55. Added pictures of Kobayashi doing the first laps in the C31 at Jerez.

  56. Weird that sauber have easily had the worst looking car since 2010 yet they receive more praise than most other teams…

  57. The car is great and actualy – apart from the nose, obviously – it looks better than last year’s.
    The livery on the other hand… last year’s was good, this is a step backwards. It looks perfect from the side, but from the front the too-dark-grey nose looks as though there were no spares and an unpainted piece was put on the car (much like what happened to Davide Valsecchi at the Nurburgring last year in GP2).
    Curious to see Perez has gone back to that yellow colour he used in GP2.

  58. The livery reminds me of Kung Fu Panda.

  59. And mine and @Magnficent-Geoffrey ‘s beloved team shows once more that they cannot/will not get a proper livery together – but you know what? I love how ridiculous this thing looks. Its completely eccentric, and lovable, like an old Citroen or something.

  60. Very thin tipm surprising to have only seen it in the Sauber I thought the whole idea was to get as mush air as possible beneath the nose, obviously Sauber passed the crash test for this thin nose.

  61. FlyingLobster27
    6th February 2012, 18:37

    Since McLaren have admitted the car they showed friday was basically a mock-up (in the exhaust department most notably), I’m thinking/hoping that the nose on the Ferrari, and now the Sauber, which look too silly to be true, might be cover-ups of something more interesting. I sense it more now that RBR have revealed their car, and to say the least, their nose is more elaborate than Lego.

    Has anyone else noticed something in the slope area on the rear views of the C31? Is the slope going to be ditched and reveal a mini-wing between the wheels? If not, where does that “vent” originate? Or am I imagining it?

  62. Stephen Higgins
    6th February 2012, 18:54

    These step / platypus noses are getting ridculous.

  63. Ugly car for Kamui

  64. Wow, those side-pods look tiny!

    Bit dull on the livery side of things, can’t say I dislike it, there really isn’t enough to dislike but perhaps a little more red if they can’t fill it up with sponsorship.

    However, they said themselves that it’s going to change before Melbourne.

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