The latest 2014 Formula One car to be revealed is the Sauber C33. The first images were made available by Sauber on Sunday afternoon. The car is powered by a Ferrari 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged hybrid “power plant”. The C33 will be driven by Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez.
The car features the larger sidepods, lower nose and rear-exiting exhaust required by the 2014 regulations. The images released do not provide a clear picture of the exact design of the nose, although it appears that the nose is similar to that seen on the Williams and McLaren thus far.
Of the teams to have unveiled their 2014 cars thus far, only Ferrari has provided an image of the rear of their car. Sauber have been just as secretive as the rest of the teams when it comes to their diffuser and have not released an image taken from behind the car.
The C33 will make its track debut tomorrow morning in Jerez, Spain.
Methods of retiring from Formula One races are many and varied. Most commonly, a driver will suffer some sort of mechanical, electronic or hydraulic failure on a highly-stressed part of the car, or will be involved in a collision. Sometimes both happen, or one causes the other. But occasionally, there are bizarre incidents that cause drivers to exit F1 races prematurely. One such incident happened to Johnny Herbert in the 1998 Italian Grand Prix.
Herbert was driving for Sauber in 1998. He wasn’t having a particularly competitive Italian Grand Prix weekend when he spun off and into retirement. He had qualified 15th for the race and was running 14th after a reasonable start. But on lap 13, he lost the back end of his Sauber and spun off at the second Lesmo corner, ending up stuck in the gravel trap.
The spin did not appear particularly unusual. At first glance it looked like Herbert had simply made an error. But the cause of the spin turned out to be rather strange. A Sauber mechanic had left a spanner in Herbert’s Sauber before the start of the race – which in itself is odd, considering the usual precision of Formula One mechanics – and on lap 13 the spanner worked its way to the foot well of the Sauber and became lodged behind the pedals. As a result, when Herbert tried to brake for the second Lesmo corner, his pedals did not move as they were supposed to and he lost control of the car.
In the other Sauber, Jean Alesi finished fifth, which provides an indication of the pace that was available in the Sauber during that race. A silly error by a Sauber mechanic cost Johnny Herbert the chance to finish the Italian Grand Prix and perhaps score points as well.
Sebastian Vettel is now looking almost certain to make it four consecutive World Drivers’ Championship, after taking a dominant victory at Monza ahead of his main (and now realistically only) title rival, Fernando Alonso. Vettel is 53 points ahead of Alonso at the top of the drivers’ table with seven races remaining in the season.
To put Vettel’s lead into perspective: If Alonso wins the next two races and Vettel takes a two-race holiday, Vettel will still have a three point lead going into the Japanese Grand Prix on 13 October.
Another illustration: If Vettel comes second in each of the remaining seven races, he will take the title, even if Alonso wins every time. Vettel’s lead is massive.
And how did Vettel get to this point? By taking yet another comfortable and controlled victory. This time it was at Ferrari’s home race, which is at least part of the reason for all the booing directed at him on the podium. Vettel led from the start, losing the lead only briefly when he pitted earlier than a couple of the cars running close to the front. As soon as they changed tyres, he was back in the lead and far enough in front that there was never any real threat to him from Alonso and Webber behind.
Alonso played his part superbly, making an aggressive pass on Webber when the opportunity presented itself and accepting a position from Felipe Massa when it was offered. But ultimately, the Ferrari was no match for the Red Bull and Alonso had no real chance of catching Vettel. Even in the closing stages, when Vettel was told by his team to manage a potential gearbox issue, Alonso was not quick enough to catch Vettel by the chequered flag.
Mark Webber stood on the podium for the first time at Monza, by taking third place for Red Bull. It’s the last time Webber will stand on the podium at a European Formula One race, as the European season is now over and Webber is leaving Formula One at the end of 2013. He looked quite pleased with his performance at Monza, but was not altogether thrilled at the booing directed at Vettel by the crowd. Webber, like many viewers, thought it was in bad taste.
Felipe Massa had a strong race without as much reward as he perhaps deserved. He finished fourth for Ferrari, but it could easily have been third had he not lost out to Webber as a result of pit strategy. Massa passed Webber off the start line and stayed ahead until the first round of pitstops, but emerged from the pits behind Webber. From then on, Massa as unable to make much of an impact on the Red Bull ahead, and finished 3 seconds behind Webber.
Arguably the drive of the day came from Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, who finished a very impressive fifth after qualifying an astonishing third on Saturday. Hulkenberg lost two places on the opening lap, but then held position until the end of the race, except for a brief period when Kimi Raikkonen was ahead of him through use of a different strategy. Ultimately, however, Raikkonen had to pit again, which gave the place back to Hulkenberg. It’s his highest finish for Sauber and Sauber’s strongest result of the season, which will certainly have buoyed the Swiss team.
Hulkenberg is one candidate to take the place of Felipe Massa at Ferrari in 2014. An announcement is expected from Maranello in the next few days. Hulkenberg’s performance at Monza demonstrates quite clearly that he is worthy of a drive in a stronger team. If not Ferrari, there will no doubt be other teams interested in signing him for next season, possibly including the Lotus team.
Mercedes had a tough Sunday afternoon. Nico Rosberg started and finished sixth, and was unable to make much of an impression on Nico Hulkenberg, despite being quite close to the Sauber throughout the race. Lewis Hamilton had a strong start from 12th on the grid, and was up to 10th on the opening lap, but an early slow puncture wrecked his strategy and Hamilton had his work cut out to score points with the disadvantage of making an extra pitstop. To add to that, his radio was not working for almost the entire race, which meant the team had only the pit board to use for communication with their driver.
Hamilton nonetheless put in an entertaining drive and finished ninth after fighting his way through the field from 14th after his second pitstop. It was, however, not enough to keep him realistically in with a chance of taking the 2013 Drivers’ Championship, which he admitted was now out of reach after the race.
Daniel Ricciardo celebrated his recent signing for Red Bull by finishing seventh for Toro Rosso, exactly where he started. He was followed home by Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and the McLaren of Jenson Button, who took home a single point after a frustrating Sunday.
Button’s problems started before the race even began, when a problem was discovered with his fuel system. The McLaren team had their work cut out to repair the car in time for Button to make the grid, which they managed, but then in the race, Button and Perez discovered they lacked straight-line speed compared to their rivals. It turned out that McLaren had miscalculated when choosing gear ratios for the race, and had selected a top gear that was slightly too short. Consequently, Button and Perez were handicapped in any battles they had on the track. One point was a small victory for Button considering the circumstances.
Force India’s day was a disaster. Paul Di Resta misjudged his braking for the second chicane on the opening lap and cannoned into the back of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, destroying the front of the Force India in the process and putting him out of the race. Surprisingly, Grosjean seemed quite unaffected by the incident and went on to finish eighth. Force India’s troubles weren’t over, however, and Adrian Sutil retired from the race at the end of the penultimate lap with a brake issue. He was not in the points at the time, so the retirement cost him nothing, but it was the end of a miserable weekend for Force India.
Williams were another team that went unrewarded for a weekend’s hard work. Maldonado and Bottas had an incident-free race, but just did not have the pace to challenge for points. It was a little surprising to see them struggle so much, as Maldonado in particular had been quite confident about the race pace of his Williams after qualifying on Saturday.
Formula One now heads to Asia for a few races, the first of which is the Singapore Grand Prix on 22 September.
Full results from the Italian Grand Prix:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||53||Winner||1||25|
|2||3||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||53||+5.4 secs||5||18|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||53||+6.3 secs||2||15|
|4||4||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||53||+9.3 secs||4||12|
|5||11||Nico Hulkenberg||Sauber||53||+10.3 secs||3||10|
|6||9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||53||+10.9 secs||6||8|
|7||19||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||53||+32.3 secs||7||6|
|8||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||53||+33.1 secs||13||4|
|9||10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||53||+33.5 secs||12||2|
|10||5||Jenson Button||McLaren||53||+38.3 secs||9||1|
|11||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus||53||+38.6 secs||11|
|12||6||Sergio Perez||McLaren||53||+39.7 secs||8|
|13||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber||53||+40.8 secs||16|
|14||16||Pastor Maldonado||Williams||53||+49.0 secs||14|
|15||17||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||53||+56.8 secs||18|
|16||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India||52||+1 Lap||17|
|17||20||Charles Pic||Caterham||52||+1 Lap||20|
|18||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||52||+1 Lap||19|
|19||22||Jules Bianchi||Marussia||52||+1 Lap||21|
|20||23||Max Chilton||Marussia||52||+1 Lap||22|
|Ret||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||14||+39 Laps||10|
|Ret||14||Paul di Resta||Force India||0||Accident||15|
Sebastian Vettel lapped the Autodromo Nazionale Monza faster than anyone else during today’s qualifying session, and thereby secured his 40th career pole position, and his Red Bull team’s 50th pole position. Mark Webber completed the front row for Red Bull, and was followed by the unlikely figure of Nico Hulkenberg in third for Sauber.
Vettel’s dominance at Red Bull over the last few seasons has been staggering. Out of 50 pole positions for the Red Bull team in their short history, Vettel has secured 39. The other 11 have gone to Mark Webber. That’s 39-11 in Vettel’s favour when it comes to pole positions. Not even vaguely close. Interestingly, Vettel now has four pole positions this season and has outqualified Webber at every race so far in 2013, highlighting just how well Vettel is driving during qualifying. Vettel’s speed is clearly not just about the car. He is in imperious form.
Mark Webber appears to be much more relaxed after he took the decision earlier in the season to leave Formula One at the end of 2013. Although he missed out on pole position, he appeared quite happy to be starting tomorrow’s race from second on the grid and seemed quite unconcerned about his inability to best Vettel this afternoon.
Nico Hulkenberg’s third place in qualifying is his strongest qualifying result since taking pole position at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix for Williams. It’s a surprising result, as the 2013 Sauber has not been an impressive car at any stage of the season thus far, and this is only the fourth time Hulkenberg has featured in Q3 in 2013. Hulkenberg has a real chance of delivering a strong points finish from third on the grid, as the Ferrari engine in his Sauber will deliver plenty of straight-line speed and there are very few corners at Monza to highlight the car’s weaknesses.
Felipe Massa outqualified Fernando Alonso for only the fourth time this season. The Brazilian was just one hundredth of a second faster than his team-mate, and less than a tenth of a second slower than Hulkenberg in third place. Last year, Massa had a very strong Italian Grand Prix, and he will be hoping to repeat the performance this time round, as it could help him to hold onto his seat at Ferrari beyond the end of the season.
Unusually in 2013, the first of the Mercedes drivers is down in sixth position. Nico Rosberg missed out on most of FP3 with an hydraulic problem, and consequently was on the back foot from the start of qualifying. He made the most of a difficult situation and set the sixth fastest time in Q3. In the other Mercedes, however, Lewis Hamilton had his worst qualifying session since 2010, missing out on Q3 after damaging the floor of his car during an off-track excursion in Q2 and failing to find the speed he needed to make it into the top ten as a result. He was also impeded on his final Q2 run by Adrian Sutil, who received a three-place grid penalty for his troubles. Hamilton was not, however, on a particularly quick lap and probably would have been eliminated in Q2 anyway.
Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are having a strong home grand prix weekend. Scuderia Toro Rosso is based in Italy, but that is easily forgotten by the home fans who seem to have interest in nothing but Ferrari. However, within the Toro Rosso team there is a determination to deliver strong results at Monza, and the drivers are well placed to do so. Ricciardo will start the Italian Grand Prix from seventh on the grid, with Vergne tenth.
Sergio Perez and Jenson Button split the Toro Rossos in qualifying, and will start the race from eighth and ninth on the grid. Monza is a track where the McLaren could deliver good results, despite the team having had a disappointing season thus far. Their Mercedes engines provide plenty of power, which will help them in a straight line and aid overtaking. If they are to have a chance of a podium in 2013, it’s at Monza. Last year the race was won by Lewis Hamilton in a McLaren, and Sergio Perez (who replaced Hamilton at McLaren this season) finished second in a Sauber.
Lotus had a qualifying session to forget. Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean simply did not have the pace to proceed to Q3 and qualified 11th and 13th on merit. They face a long Sunday afternoon in Italy, as the Lotus E21 is simply not suited to the high-speed, low downforce Monza circuit. However, there is the possibility of rain during the race, which could bring the Lotus drivers into contention.
Full results from qualifying:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:24.319||1:23.977||1:23.755||15|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:24.923||1:24.263||1:23.968||18|
|7||19||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1:24.655||1:24.290||1:24.209||24|
|10||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:24.630||1:24.575||1:28.050||20|
|14||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:25.030||1:24.932||19|
|16||14||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:25.009||1:25.077||18|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||1:26.406||9|
|Q1 107% Time||1:30.221|
Until a few weeks ago, Sergey Sirotkin was virtually unknown to Formula One. Now he’s looking at the possibility of becoming the youngest race driver in the history of the sport. If all goes to plan, Sirotkin will make his debut for Sauber in 2014 at the tender age of 18.
Sirotkin is the enormously fortunate beneficiary of a partnership that has been put together to bail out the struggling Sauber team. It’s no secret that Sauber have been battling to pay their bills during the 2013 season, with even the drivers having to wait for their salaries at times. There were rumours that Sauber was on the brink of disappearing from the F1 grid.
But all of that is now over, with the announcement that three Russian companies have come to the rescue of the struggling Swiss team. Sauber Motorsport AG has partnered with the Investment Cooperation International Fund, the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation and the National Institute of Aviation Technologies. The purpose of the partnership is “to open up new perspectives and revenue streams by commercialising jointly developed technologies.”
With the heavy emphasis on aerodynamics and materials in Formula One, Sauber stands to benefit greatly from the partnership with, in particularly, the National Institute of Aviation Technologies, which will provide expertise and experience far beyond that of a typical Formula One team.
The partnership comes at an exciting time in Russian motor racing. The inaugural Russian Grand Prix will take place at a purpose-built track in Sochi in 2014. It is with that in mind that the Russian government is pushing hard to increase Russia’s profile in Formula One, which includes the aggressive development of young Russian drivers. And that is where Sergey Sirotkin comes in. The plan is to have a Russian driver on the grid in 2014 to take part in the Russian Grand Prix in a Russian-backed car.
Sirotkin may be relatively unknown, but he is by all accounts no slouch as a racing driver. He won the 2011 Formula Abarth Championship aged just 16, and has since won races in the Auto GP Series and Italian Formula Three European Series. In 2013, Sirotkin is competing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, which produced current Toro Rosso F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo. He has yet to win a race in 2013, but has recorded a second place and two fourth places already this season as he gets to grips with the series.
If he drives in Formula One next season as planned, Sirotkin will shatter all of the “youngest ever” records in the sport. At present, the record for the youngest driver to drive at an F1 Grand Prix weekend is held by Sebastian Vettel, who was 19 years and 54 days old when he took part in practice for the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix. At 19 years 125 days old, Jaime Alguersuari became the youngest ever driver to start an F1 race when he took part in the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix for Toro Rosso.
Sirotkin will turn 18 on 27 August 2013, which will easily make him the youngest driver ever to race in Formula One if he competes for Sauber at any point in 2014. The problem is that he might well be too young. He is in just his fourth full season of single-seater racing and has never driven an F1 car. The learning curve for such a young and inexperienced driver in F1 is likely to be appallingly steep. The cars are much faster and more difficult to drive than anything he has raced so far, the races are longer and more demanding and the level of competition is unparalleled in world motorsport.
To his credit, the young Russian is approaching his looming F1 debut realistically. He knows that he is young and inexperienced. He expects that Formula One will be an enormous challenge. But he also knows that, if he does not take the opportunity to race in F1 now, it may never come his way again.
Sirotkin told Autosport, “The chance to be a Formula 1 driver is not something you can have every day… OK, maybe spending one more year in World Series, I could be more ready, but after one more year maybe there is no chance for me to be a Formula 1 driver. I don’t think that someone in my place could say ‘No, I want to stay in World Series’.”
“At the moment maybe I am a little bit too young but that doesn’t mean I cannot be ready. I have more than half a year to learn, I am doing a good preparation programme, and I can be ready. I don’t think it is going to be a big problem.”
Sauber are the first team to announce that their 2013 car has passed the FIA’s mandatory safety tests. The car can now be run in winter testing and is approved, from a safety point of view, for racing in the 2013 season.
The announcement also confirms the model number (C32) of the new car, and that it will be run at the first test in Jerez, Spain which starts on 5 February 2013. The car is not the only new part of the team for next season – an all-new driver line-up of Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Gutiérrez and test and reserve driver Robin Frijns will contest the 2013 championship for Sauber.
Sauber have signed Mexican driver Estaban Gutiérrez to race alongside Nico Hulkenberg in 2013. Gutiérrez has been Sauber’s test and reserve driver during 2011 and 2012 while he has been competing in GP2, but has now been promoted into a full-time Formula One race seat.
Sauber’s announcement confirms that Kamui Kobayashi is out of a drive for next season. The exciting and often sideways Japanese driver had a promising start to his Formula One career late in 2009 for Toyota and was signed by Sauber from 2010. He impressed during 2010 and 2011 but has had a fairly lacklustre 2012, apart from an emotional first podium at his home race in Japan. Unfortunately for Kobayashi, it is becoming increasingly difficult for drivers to find seats based solely on talent, and he is now seeking sponsorship to assist in finding a drive for next season.
Gutiérrez has already proven his talent, taking the inaugural GP3 title in 2010 and finishing third in GP2 in 2012. He first tested for BMW Sauber in 2009 and has since been run by Sauber at the annual Young Driver Test. The young Mexican is only 21 years old, which raises questions about whether or not he has the necessary experience for Formula One. In the current tough economic climate, he has likely been rushed into an F1 race seat in order to continue Sauber’s sponsorship relationship with Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim, which began when the team signed Sergio Perez who is moving to McLaren from next season.
It was highly likely that Gutiérrez would end up in Formula One anyway. He is certainly quick enough. Whether or not he is ready to race at the top level of motorsport will be revealed by his performance on the track in 2013.