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Sixth Sense

kobispa

Sebastian Vettel has won the Championship. Lets face it, whilst it isn’t mathematically assured, only a miracle will see anyone else lift the trophy.

The racing has at least, been enthralling. And if you want an exciting battle there are two very tight ones going on. But while Mark Webber, Jenson Button and the rest of them fight it out over second in the Drivers Championship. An intriguing battle can be found over sixth place in the Constructors.

A few months ago Sauber were flying. Points were frequent, the performances were spectacular and memorable and everyone was happy. I may have even said that they might as well paint 11 and 12 on the C31 because 6th looked guaranteed.

Sometimes I wonder why I open my mouth.

In the last three races, zero points have been scored. That includes three retirements and Kobayashi and Perez hitting too many of the opposition. The 6th place that looked nailed on is now no longer theirs, with Force India leading the Swiss by a point. And there’s also Toro Rosso lurking in the background, being there mainly on the basis that their qualifying is bad enough the tyres are nice and fresh for the race.

Where has it all gone so wrong?

Of course, the Italian Grand Prix was a cruel piece of luck. Kobayashi was fighting for the last few points when his Ferrari gear box decided it didn’t want to function anymore. Then later on in the race, while Perez still hadn’t pitted and was looking good for a 7th or an 8th, his Ferrari gear box decided to pack up as well. It would have put to an end the horrible run that the team we’re going on but it only prolonged the issue to a track Sauber have never performed spectacularly well at in the past, Singapore. Last year, Michael Schumacher was seemingly attracted to the shiny white a little too much, being a major part of the retirements of both cars.

The bad run can be traced back to Hungary, both cars were sent out too long on the medium tyres, which culminated in the somewhat humiliating moment where Kobayashi was overtaken by four cars on the straight near to the end of the race. Belgium was just a crash-fest in reality, both Perez and Kobayashi being involved with Sebastian Buemi, and then most notably, where Lewis Hamilton cut off Kobayashi and found himself heading for the Armco. Although Kobayashi could continue (Perez would later retire), no points were to be scored.

And this bad run came at the same time Force India came to the fore. In Hungary, Paul di Resta finished in a career best 7th. This was followed by a 7th in Belgium by Adrian Sutil, and a further four points being scored for the Scot in Italy. In three races, Force India have scored sixteen points, which is just less than half of their entire total for the season.

Without doubt the impressive ability of Paul di Resta has been a crucial factor in their improvements. While Perez is struggling at times in the Sauber, di Resta has taken to Formula 1 like a duck to water, with a clear ability and the fact he is getting some really impressive results. It isn’t to say Perez has been poor, his 7th in Britain was fantastic, and a similar performance could have been on the cards in Italy. But his core performance isn’t at the same level as the Scot.

The key battle could though come down to how it fares between the supposed team leaders. While Kobayashi has put in performances which have shown him to be more than a crazy kid who has balls, Sutil has shown himself to be the average driver that he is. He’s been outqualified by di Resta, and he’s also only higher in the standings because of his ability to finish high. But in my eyes he isn’t performing brilliantly, and generally, isn’t the best option available to them. Granted he has got them the majority of the points, but I don’t think they have been enough for Sutil.

While Toro Rosso look unlikely to catch up to them, they have been in the points frequently of late. Most notably being the team that I like to put money on qualifying in 18th and shockingly getting in the points. At the weekend, the BBC gave Jaime Alguersuari his second Driver of the Day, both of those drives came from him when he started 18th and he got into the points. Granted it does require some race craft and ability, but it does feel like a loophole. So far this season, the drivers who have been knocked out in Q1, have improved in races in China (Mark Webber, qualified 18th, finished 3rd), Turkey (Kobayashi, 24th to 10th), Spain (Heidfeld, 24th to 8th), Canada (Alguersuari, pitlane to 8th), Europe (Alguersuari, 18th to 8th), Britain (Alguersuari, 18th to 10th), Germany (Kobayashi, 17th to 10th), Hungary (Buemi, 23rd to 9th), Belgium (Schumacher, 23rd to 5th) and Italy (Alguersuari, 18th to 8th). I think it might be more than a coincidence.

At the end of the day though, Toro Rosso are taking full advantage and are scoring points because of it. And that’s why they have an outside hope of finishing 6th.

The battle though could go down to the wire, both Sauber and Force India have positives and negatives. Assuming Sauber can get out of the slump and put pressure on Force India, it could be an intriguing battle, and it could be interesting to see how Toro Rosso fit themselves into the jigsaw.

Sebastian who?

Bright Lights Returning

Canadian F1 Grand Prix YSdWLwMvJ6Il

A lot of things can happen in three years. Back in 2008, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds were seen as respectable members of the Renault F1 team, five different cars were winning races and everyone thought they had seen the last of Sakon Yamamoto.

And Sauber were entering a competitive car, which under the backing of BMW, won their first and so far only grand prix exactly three years today.

I presume we all know the story of one Sunday afternoon in Montreal. Robert Kubica had started second, and when he was waiting for the green light in the pitlane next to Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton ploughed into the back of the Finn, closely followed by Nico Rosberg. Kubica was left unscathed from the whole drama, and was allowed a free battle against his team mate, Nick Heidfeld. His speed in a two stop strategy compared to Heidfeld’s one was sufficient enough to see him finish ahead, a 1-2, for the only time.

The results were sensational, 18 points for BMW Sauber put them three points behind Ferrari in the Constructors Championship. More significantly perhaps,  the 10 points for Kubica saw him lead the Championship. Ahead of the likes of Hamilton, Raikkonen and Massa. The peak, at the top of the mountain. Surely this team could go on to better and greater things. More wins, maybe even a good run into the Championships. Yet no one thought to tell Dr Theissen that when you are up there, there is only one way you are going to slide.

Of the next eleven races, BMW Sauber only got on the podium five further times. The reports saying the focus was on 2009, with the major changes in the rules and regulations.

The tactic failed spectacularly. Robert Kubica was an outside shot for the Championship right until the penultimate round, someone who could have pushed Hamilton and Massa had there been further updates.

Kubica was knowingly angry, as was I. Although 2008 wasn’t scrumpled up and chucked in the bin, there were some updates, minor updates, but BMW Sauber were being left behind by the developments of McLaren and Ferrari. What could have been? Hindsight allows us so many things, it wasn’t worth giving up after Canada.

2009 was disastrous, the car looked ugly and its performances matched it. For a team built on reliability the car was breaking down far too often, only twice did the car get on the podium, and one of those occasions only ended in half points.

BMW sold to QADBAK, the mysterious middle eastern company who had also bought the League 2 football club, Notts County. That went down the pan (as did the ownership of the company several years later), but the pan decided to flip up Peter Sauber, who bought his team back, it was back in his ownership, like it should be, its his team after all.

I was delighted, I loved the BMW regime, it was like playing football under Jose Mourinho. It wasn’t pretty, you looked boring, but you got the results and you just had to love the person in charge. Then Mourinho decided to leave to join some German club and your left with the assistant manager Martin Jol to step up, the charismatic, lovely, simply can’t hate him whatsoever, you love what he does even if it isn’t as good.

And it wasn’t as good. If everyone thought QADBAK was rock bottom, worse was yet to come. The 2010 duo of Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa failed to score a point until the Turkish Grand Prix, even worse, de la Rosa’s only points came in Hungary. Hungary, a race in July. While Heidfeld steadied the ship, it was a depressing season.

With promise though. And 2011 has re-enlightened the spark left behind when BMW left. Kobayashi has finished in the points every race this season (if you include Australia, where I don’t let that disqualification get in the way of a good stat), while young Mexican Sergio Perez has showed a lot of promise. This was all backed up in Monaco, Kobayashi showed everything that proved the doubters wrong, he kept Webber and Hamilton behind for many laps, he got himself past Adrian Sutil, albeit forcefully, and could have finished even higher than 5th had the red flag not come out. It was partly down to luck, pitting during the Safety Car. But Jamey Key has built a hell of a car, which seems to be in a full on relationship with the Pirelli tyres and treats it with roses and chocolates every other Sunday.

It is nowhere near the same promise shown back in 2008. Formula 1 can be classified in four clear groups. The Front Runners of Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari. The Front Midfield of Renault and Mercedes. The Back Midfield (well thought out names, I will admit) of Sauber, Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso. And of course the rubbish three of Team Lotus, Virgin and Hispania. But its time to asses this view, Sauber are now eleven points ahead of the next rivals, Force India. Renault and Mercedes both showed signs of struggling in Monaco. The balance in the midfield is shifting.

Canada will be the true test of course, scene of the greatest moment for Sauber in their 18 year history, with the treating of the tyres on a track which will probably require 84 pitstops for each driver, maybe the good form can carry on. Sergio Perez back to his best after his massive crash, and Kamui Kobayashi is leading the team, why not feel good about Sauber yet again? In a world dominated by Sebastian Vettel, there is cause for happiness in Formula 1.

Three years ago the world was at BMW Sauber’s feet. After dragging themselves through hell and high waters, the world is once again a prettier place, with flowers and sunshine, and the world at the feet once again.

Sauber: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

For the Bloggers Swap Shop this weekend, Tommy B from WTF1 has written a fantastic piece for the Northern Waffler. Take it away.

I’ve taken a break from my site WTF1 to write a guest post for the Northern Waffler. When choosing a favourite team many choose a classic team such as Ferrari, McLaren or Mercedes, others go for the sympathy vote and support the loveable underdog, the ‘Minardi’. Myself and RG are one of the select few fans who choose to follow a midfield team, me with Toro Rosso and RG with Sauber, so they may not have the most fans in the world but everyone has their reasons for supporting a team.

Growing up with F1 around 1996, the Sauber team stood out for me. The bright blue and turquoise cars was one of my favourite ever liveries. Nowadays Sauber sport a, rather boring in my opinion, plain white livery, of course the team had no sponsorship after BMW choosing to pull out of the sport.

Sauber made their debut in 1993 and since then have had some good, bad and ugly liveries. So I present to you my guest article entitled. ‘Sauber: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.’


The Good

2001: Sauber C20

With a few years sporting the turqoise and blue livery, it was a livery that stood out on track, a unique livery that had never seen before and hasn’t been seen since. In 2001 saw Sauber add a flash of white thanks to sponsor ‘Credit Suisse’. This slick and polished livery is exactly what you’d expect from a Swiss team.

2004: Sauber C23

*Drools* Just look at it! Similar to the 2001 livery but Sauber made it look even better in 2003. Beautiful slick lines made even a miss match of colours work so brilliantly together. A car this colourful hasn’t been seen since the days of the multi-coloured Benetton’s from the late 80′s. The Sauber C23 also saw Red Bull sponsor the car for the last time, ending their 9 year relationship.

The Bad

1994: Sauber C13

Sauber’s debut livery in 1993 was simple and beautiful but this messy effort from 1994 was simply ghastly. The dots are so 90′s it hurts and not even the supposedly cool 90′s making it "Retro". It’s made worse by the cheesy, asymmetrical watch over the front nose cone. That is just so wrong.

2006: BMW Sauber F1.06

For me this was when Sauber lost their appeal, sporting a boring white livery after being taken over from BMW. Yes they were the BMW racing colours but they could have come up with something a bit more interesting. It was also a sad-sad day when the classic bright blue and turquoise livery was laid to rest.

The Ugly

2009: BMW Sauber F1.09

BMW Sauber were first to show off their 2009 challenger. It didn’t go down well, this horrifically ugly car would even make Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen barf. Fans faces collectively turned green after seeing the new-look car for 2009 and even worse, the F1.09 was uncompetitive as well.

2010: Sauber C29

With BMW leaving the sport, Sauber struggled to find sponsors for 2010. This meant Sauber were free to do whatever they wanted… they kept the car plain white. Even worse was when they did get a sponsor they slapped some Burger King logos on the car. Kobayashi’s ‘facepalm’ above says it all really.

Sauber have bagged the sponsor Telmex for 2011. Could we possibly see the bright and colourful livery returning to Sauber? *Crosses fingers*

Kamui Kobayashi

Sports News - May 30, 2010

Pos Driver Points
15 Sebastian Buemi 1
16 Nico Hulbenberg 1
17 Kamui Kobayashi 1
Pos Team Points
8 Toro Rosso 4
9 BMW Sauber 1
10 Lotus Racing 0

Yeah baby! 1 point, wooo.

The Desert Classic

Sports News - March 11, 2010

Sunday 14th March 2010, 12pm GMT, while I play in an obscure football match, 24 cars will be lining side by side each other in Bahrain, in anticipation for the start of the new Formula 1 season, which only 8 months ago looked in doubt whether the best teams would be in it, as controversy reigned supreme. The usual really.

Then deals were signed, three new teams entered, two regulars pulled out, the champions bought out, another new team came in, one more returned and a new team dropping out. And the amount of driver changes has been massive as well, with only three teams keeping the exact same team that finished the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix back in November (Red Bull, Force India and Toro Rosso).

The new teams have sadly took the most of the attention away from what should be a very exciting title fight. Back in the Summer, Manor Motorsport, Campos Meta 1 and USF1 were all chosen from a massive group to be the three new teams to compete for the 2010 championship. Ironically, none of those teams have kept that identity now. Manor are now Virgin Racing, Campos are now Hispania and USF1 fail to exist at all.

Then, with the departure of BMW Sauber, the familiar name of Lotus returned, despite really being anything but Lotus, quite frankly the only thing in common is the name Lotus, and the sort of desperate attempt of copying the old style livery. Managing to get in two one-time race winners in Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, will surely help the team, especially regarding the hiring of Trulli, the qualifying expert who will be most likely be the first driver from the new teams to get into Q2.

Hispania (Or HRT for the lazy people) were so close to not making it at all, Adrian Campos dream of owning a F1 team shattered weeks before Bahrain. But it was the best for the team and the FIA selection committee, as they wouldn’t have made it in any case. With the chassis made by Dallara, they could have been one of the best new teams this season, instead, with delays, lack of money and crucially, no testing. The lack of money shows, the hiring of well-paid drivers Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna will give them the stability, probably not the results.

And finally there is Virgin Racing, the clever little team trying to use computers and not wind tunnels. The snazzy Red and black car has unfortunately been in the wars more times than they hoped. Timo Glock managing to last just ten minutes before the front wing came off in their first test session. They did do well in bringing in Timo Glock, the German who manages to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (notably at Toyota for the last two years) and Lucas di Grassi, a solid little GP2 driver.

In all fairness, the new boys are unlikely to score a point. You only have to look at Force India and the fact it took them 19 races before their first points in Belgium, that was with 2 less cars as well. It is hard to see how they will get any points at all, unless there is a repeat of the 1996 Monaco GP. Which must be a very rare chance.

Toro Rosso this year are going to be in a league of their own. Not exactly in too good a sense, whilst they will be better than Virgin, Lotus and HRT, they won’t be as impressive as the rest of the field. The team remain with the young drivers in Buemi and Alguesuari, who last season picked up just a few points, mainly from Buemi (and a couple from Bourdais). The team have an updated RB5 under them, which should help, but I don’t think the drivers are good enough to do anything with it.

Last year for Force India was quite impressive, albeit if the amazing moments came in just two races. Giancarlo Fisichella stunned the world when he put that Force India on pole, then stunned them even more when he finished 2nd. That was followed up by Adrian Sutil in Italy and his 4th place. Vitantonio Liuzzi could have got some points in the same race, if he had some more luck. This year, little has changed on the car, it looks likely it will be the same one trick pony good on the tracks like Spa-Francorchamps or Monza. Its a shame for a decent driver like Liuzzi, its standard for an overrated driver like Sutil.

If you know me well, you would know that the end of last season wasn’t easy. It looked likely that my favourite team in F1 would cease to exist, with no one seemingly pulling out and the anonymity of the new owners QADBAK. Then, two miracles in one happened. Toyota pulled out, freeing up a space and then the legend that is Peter Sauber regained control. Despite no name change (although it sounds like Sauber Motorsport is the likely choice). Testing seems promising, although that may be the fact I’m refusing to listen to anyone who says its just low fuel laps to generate sponsors. They might not be one of the top 4 teams, probably 5th or 6th overall, but I’m still confident the team can do something pretty special at some race this year. Despite the unique paring of Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi, I think the experienced and youth duo can help each other and despite the small chances of it all, I think it’ll blossom.

Then there are Renault, a team I have absolutely no idea how to talk about them. Despite new ownership, the team name remains, but Alonso and Grosjean are out. Replacing them are the first Pole in F1 Robert Kubica and the first Russian in F1 Vitaly Petrov. I fully expect Kubica to impress in the car, which will probably be distinctly average. Petrov on the other hand, is a tough cookie to predict. Having seen exactly nothing of him and my only previous mention of the name was to spread a big rumour around the internet. He might get the odd point, but I don’t think there will be anymore. Probably all before he quietly slips out of F1 to be replaced by someone else with some promise (and money).

Williams seem to be knocking on the big four door. They have a neat little car, two very impressive drivers and a strong shout of improving on some poor recent years. Testing has looked promising for them. Rubens Barrichello may have been in F1 since 1993, but last year showed he still had it in him to win races. Nico Hulkenberg won the GP2 championship, all the GP2 champions have gone on to do very well the following season in F1 (except for Giorgio Pantano). I think Williams could sneak a win in this season, watch out for them, they are the Tottenham Hotspur to the Premier League top 4, the Wigan Warriors to the St. Helens and Leeds Rhinos domination in Rugby League. Threats. And big ones at that.

As mentioned thousands of times, there is a distinct big 4 this season. McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari. These are the four teams with probably the best 8 drivers on the grid, all who could win a race, some who have experienced winning a championship, others coming very close. Some have the determination and others have skill. From these 8, I would not be surprised if all 8 win at least one race.

Red Bull set the standard for one of the best cars of 2009. It won plaudits and has been copied by many teams for this year. But some feel this years version hasn’t advanced far enough. Sebastian Vettel looks good once again, and with Mark Webber finally getting wins on the board, will he now take the battle to Vettel. The only concern for the team is reliability, which is what they suffered from last season.

Ferrari had a poor season by their high standards. While some would love to finish in 4th, it is somewhere Ferrari haven’t been since 1993, when they had Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger. Last year was marred by the awful accident to Felipe Massa, but he returns along with two time champion Fernando Alonso. For the first time in two years, Alonso has been given a competitive car and a competitive team mate. The Alonso-Massa partnership will be under scrutiny from the word go, we all know how Alonso fared with Lewis Hamilton in 2007. But a competitive team mate should bring out the best out of Alonso and Massa. The two might not get on too well, but Ferrari could reap the benefits out of it all.

This time last year, Ross Brawn had saved the Honda team, kept Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello and plonked a Mercedes engine on the back of the Honda designed car. Little did anyone know that in 9 months time they would be World Champions (including me, who also this time last year thought they only had quick times in testing due to getting sponsors in and such). It was just a one year stand for Brawn GP as Mercedes bought the team out. Out goes Champion Button and Barrichello. In comes Nico Rosberg from Williams, and a certain Michael Schumacher from retirement. Hardly anyone saw it coming, but his failed return for Ferrari last year showed his desire to return to racing at the highest level. There is no doubt from testing that he is equal if not better than Rosberg. Despite the team saying they will not be winning races straight away, I think they might nick off with a few points before winning in Spain or Monaco. They won’t win the championship, but they will be a very good challenge.

And finally, we move from Team Germany to Team Great Britain. McLaren offer a patriotic feel to it all, with 2009 Champion Jenson Button and 2008 Champion Lewis Hamilton at the team. Couldn’t possibly have got a better team I don’t think. Hamilton is an excellent driver and better than Jenson Button. But Button will be determined to prove everyone wrong. As well as that, they’ve sneaked in some aerodynamics that could put them on top, just.

So that’s my recap of the 2010 grid. Whilst its not all positive (imagine if Stefan GP had made it?), I hope it helps to show my views on the runners and riders. And now, a definitive list of predictions right from the World Champion to the winner of the Wooden Spoon.

  1. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
  2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
  3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
  4. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
  5. Jenson Button (McLaren)
  6. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
  7. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
  8. Rubens Barrichello (Williams)
  9. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  10. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
  11. Nico Hulkenberg (Williams)
  12. Robert Kubica (Renault)
  13. Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber)
  14. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India)
  15. Sebastian Buemi (Toro Rosso)
  16. Adrian Sutil (Force India)
  17. Vitaly Petrov (Renault)
  18. Jaime Alguesuari (Toro Rosso)
  19. Timo Glock (Virgin Racing)*
  20. Lucas di Grassi (Virgin Racing)*
  21. Jarno Trulli (Lotus)*
  22. Heikki Kovalainen (Louts)*
  23. Karun Chandhok (HRT)*
  24. Bruno Senna (HRT)*

*All 0 points **In assumption of driver changes, this is the order as if there were none

  • First driver to be sacked: Jaime Alguesuari
  • First crash of the season: Petrov, di Grassi, Kovalainen, Sutil, Senna, first corner, Bahrain
  • First new team to reach Q2: Lotus (With Trulli)
  • Maiden Winners: Nico Rosberg and Kamui Kobayashi
  • Big Controversy: 2010 Chinese Grand Prix

And there we have it, my season preview completed. Free Practice 1 starts at the ridiculously early time of 7am GMT. Or for those who see sense, Qualifying starts at 11am GMT, just before the Tottenham v Blackburn game, so you won’t miss that.

I’ll get back to you in a months time, when I note that a prediction has been horribly wrong. Its going to be like 2009, but more insane.

Unknown Quantities

Practice for the German F1 Grand Prix
 

2010, may be seen by some as a new start, four new teams coming in, a lot of rookie drivers as well. For me, it is the year of returns. Michael Schumacher back after three years out, Sauber coming back after four years under the disguise of BMW. Mercedes, returning with a team for the first time since 1955.

Earlier today, the list of returnees continued. Pedro de la Rosa was confirmed as the new driver at Sauber, pipping Giancarlo Fisichella to the drive. The move completes the line up at Sauber, Kamui Kobayashi in the other seat.

Like Michael Schumacher, de la Rosa hasn’t been involved in a race for three years. Unlike Schumacher, he has only been on the podium once in seventy-two races. He’s been in an actual race just nine times since 2002.

That worries me, his lack of any actual racing experience in the last decade. Despite being 38 years old, and seemingly being in Formula 1 forever, he has only had four full years of F1 experience, and those being in an Arrows and a Jaguar car. 6 points were scored in those four seasons, just 6. More worryingly, in those 62 races from 1999-2002, 38 ended up in retirement. More than half the time, de la Rosa didn’t even reach the chequered flag.

But, I’ll be fine, these stats are from the Pedro de la Rosa before he joined McLaren as a reserve driver. In 9 races spreading from a sole appearance at the Bahrain GP in 2005 (Juan Pablo Montoya was injured due to a tennis injury) and completing the 2006 season (Montoya left for NASCAR), with Kimi Raikkonen in the other McLaren car for all nine races, he was beaten by him 6-3. Two retirements (at least they weren’t his fault) and a grand total of 23 points, just under 6 times the amount he had got in four years in a clearly inferior car.

His best finish was in Hungary, back in 2006. A second place result behind the then first time winner in Jenson Button. The last three years have seen him as a reserve driver at McLaren, but never been needed to be called up.

So, with an unspectacular history in Formula 1, especially with a sparse appearance record, why has Peter Sauber gone with Pedro de la Rosa?

Well, Mr Sauber says this in the press relese:

“We as a team stand to gain from his experience, and the same goes for young Kamui. The combination of a seasoned racer and an up-and-coming young driver has repeatedly proved a very fruitful one. I don’t expect either of them to disappoint in 2010. Of course it is also crucial that we provide them with a decent car”

Peter Sauber

Experience is certainly something de la Rosa has. 2010 will be the 11th year in Formula 1 for the Spanish driver. To be alongside Kamui Kobayashi, the young pretender, someone with experience was going to be needed alongside him. That inevitably left three likely drivers to be his team mate, Nick Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella and Pedro de la Rosa.

Heidfeld must have been the most obvious choice, having been with the team all the way through the BMW years as well as between 2001-2003. That is a grand total 7 years at one form of Sauber, in ten seasons, that shows his loyalty. He has the knowledge of all the team at Hinwil.

But the one problem that Nick Heidfeld had, no sponsorship money. That is what Fisichella and de la Rosa had. For Fisi, it was sponsorship money in a different sense. As Sauber were using Ferrari engines for 2010, it was believed that the engine costs would be cut if Fisichella was to join Sauber, being a Ferrari reserve driver.

It seemed almost certain that it was going to Fisichella last night, apparently leaving the Ferrari camp in the Italian Dolomites early to head off to Hinwil. So it did come as a massive surprise when I looked at the BBC Sport website and saw it was Pedro de la Rosa partnering alongside Kobayashi.

As strange as it sounds, I am oddly looking forward towards the upcoming season especially as a Sauber fan. Kamui Kobyashi, as it pains me to say it, is going to be a very exciting driver this year. Pedro de la Rosa will be an unknown quantity, my head says he is going to be crap, my heart says he will be like Alex Wurz when he returned for Williams in 2007 (I think that is the aim for the Spaniad)

So roll on 31st January, Sauber are going to unveil the 2010 challenger, my word, I can’t wait for Bahrain now.

Not entirely sure still how de la Rosa has made me excited again.

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