Sauber: Giving up on 2013 car never an option

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Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has rejected the idea that Sauber would ever have given up on their 2013 car, believing that it was important for the team to keep developing the C32 despite its lack of pace at the beginning of the season.

Following a successful campaign in 2012, many expected Sauber to continue to flourish this year only for the Swiss team to struggle and pick up just seven points in the opening eleven races. However, Kaltenborn explained that these early-season problems were largely down to the design route taken at the beginning of the year.

“After the concept of the side exhaust system was very successful last year, our engineers decided to go with a different concept for the C32, that in theory had even more potential,” she said. “In practice, however, it looked different. We realised that in Melbourne where we brought an update to the car that didn’t work as we expected it to. It then took some time for our engineers to understand the problem.”

However, the team never contemplated scrapping development of the 2013 car, with Kaltenborn believing that the work undertaken will aid the design of next year’s car despite the seismic change in regulations.

“Giving up was never an option, because we wanted to make progress with the current car, in order to improve in the constructors’ championship,” Kaltenborn explained. “In addition the insight we are getting now will help with the development of the new car.”

Following Nico Hulkenberg’s fine run of form and Esteban Gutierrez’s first points in Japan last weekend, the team is now just seventeen points behind Force India in the race for sixth place in the constructors’ championship.

Fernando Alonso confirmed for Toyota LMP1 test in Bahrain

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SAKHIR, Bahrain – Fernando Alonso will take his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he tests an LMP1 car for Toyota on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit.

McLaren Formula 1 driver and two-time world champion Alonso is hoping to appear at Le Mans next year as part of his bid to become just the second man in history to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.

Alonso has already completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 in May with McLaren-Honda-Andretti, retiring late on due to an engine failure.

Momentum is building for Alonso to make his Le Mans debut with Toyota in 2018, starting with a first sports car run-out in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season rookie test in Bahrain on Sunday.

Alonso arrived in Bahrain on Saturday to watch the six-hour WEC race as an invited guest of the Bahraini royal family, with his participation in the test being confirmed after the race.

“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car. When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer,” Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said.

“We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 Hybrid.”

Alonso will share running in the Toyota car with 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who received a test as a prize for his star display during his rookie WEC campaign this year, while regular Toyota racer Mike Conway will also complete laps.