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Thursday, December 2, 2010

2010 eval: BMW Sauber

Jan. 31, 2010 - (L to R): Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) BMW Sauber with Peter Sauber (SUI) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal and Kamui Kobayashi.


Synopsis: When Peter Sauber sold his team to BMW, he thought he was securing the future of the team for his employees. Little could he predict he’d be back to save the team from extinction just a few short years later, but save it he did, teaming up once again with Ferrari power.

Points: 44

Highlight: Several drives by Kamui Kobayashi are worth noting, including a strong home race at Suzuka. But his drive in Valencia, where he ran as high a fourth, and after pitting finished seventh by overtaking Fernando Alonso and Sébastien Buemi, was a turning point for the team in 2010.

VALENCIA, SPAIN - JUNE 27: Kamui Kobayashi of Japan and BMW Sauber drives during the European Formula One Grand Prix at the Valencia Street Circuit on July 27, 2010, in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)


Lowlight: The once proud Sauber team teetered on the brink with no guarantee of an entry after BMW’s attempt to sell it to Qadbak Investments Limited fell through, even after Sauber moved to repurchase the team. Once on the grid, early results were disappointing, but the typically strong organization began to see success as the season progressed.

Drivers:

May 12, 2010 - Monte Carlo, Monaco - BMW Sauber drivers PEDRO DE LA ROSA and KAMUI KOBAYASHI with engineer at the Formula One World Championship Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day.


  • Kamui Kobayashi impressed in his 2009 Toyota debut, but looked to be on the outside looking after the automaker’s withdraw until Sauber threw him a lifeline. After retiring in five of his first six races in 2010, he suffered only three more for the rest of the season. He finished in the points eight times, including his impressive drives in Japan and Valencia, and a season-best sixth at Silverstone. Murray Walker call’s him Japan’s best yet, and it is hard to disagree.
  • Pedro de la Rosa sat a long time as a tester to return to a race drive, but found himself consistently outpaced by his younger teammate throughout his term. His best finish, and only points of the season, came in Hungary where he finished seventh. He was replaced by Nick Heidfeld from Singapore on.
  • Nick Heidfeld was well travelled in 2010, starting the season with Mercedes, but was released so he could test for Pirelli. After three tests for F1’s new tire supplier, he was released so he could join Sauber for the third time in his career. He finished in the points twice, an eighth in Japan and a ninth in Korea.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 17: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Sauber F1 Team during the Young Driver Testing at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 17, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)
A look ahead: Sauber announced a deal with Telmex and the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, before the season ended. Sauber stresses he has not sold the team, but rather the injection of cash is a sponsorship agreement. Whatever it may be, it should be good for a team that has proven in the past it can do more with less, now it may not have to. Sauber has traditionally utilized new technologies well, and in its independent guise has fostered strong relations with Ferrari. Kobayashi returns and will be joined by young Mexican Sergio Pérez, who impressed in the end of season young drivers test. If there are to be four challengers for the constructors title next year, it is not beyond reason to think the team could finish in fifth as best of the rest. Should one of those frontrunners miss the mark, don’t be surprised if Sauber do even better. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six

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