In a highly-anticipated reveal, the Sauber Formula 1 team introduced their latest creation, the C44, during a launch event in London on Monday evening. Among the most notable changes is the shift from push-rod to pull-rod front suspension, aligning Sauber with the likes of Red Bull and McLaren, who made similar choices when the current regulations were introduced in 2022.
The decision to opt for a pull-rod front suspension is a significant departure from Sauber’s previous design philosophy and is expected to offer aerodynamic advantages. This move follows the success of Red Bull’s RB18 and RB19 models and McLaren’s notable performance surge last year.
Sauber’s new Technical Director, James Key, who joined the team in September, emphasized that the C44 represents a departure from its disappointing predecessor. Key highlighted that the car is essentially a new creation, with only a few carry-over elements at the rear of the vehicle.
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Aerodynamic Focus and Visible Changes
James Key shed light on the ambitious direction the team undertook, stating, “There are many mechanical changes, some of which you can’t see at all, but some are very visible.” He emphasized that the front suspension underwent a complete overhaul and acknowledged the challenges associated with such a project for a team of Sauber’s size.
“The front suspension is completely new, a tough and ambitious project for a team of our size, there are many aerodynamic changes, of course, as would be expected given that this remains the primary area of development – so, overall, the car will really look quite different to last year’s car,” said Key.
Despite the challenges, Sauber embraced new and exciting directions, aiming to harness their potential for on-track success. The unveiling event highlighted the team’s anticipation to witness the changes in action.
Trends and Divergence in F1 Design
James Key acknowledged the trend towards convergence in Formula 1 design since the introduction of the current regulations in 2022. While many teams have adopted similar concepts, Key hinted at the possibility of some teams deviating from these trends in the upcoming season.
“Since 2022, when these regulations came in, the cars have developed very rapidly, and there’s a lot of potential in a lot of areas of the car. Whilst those trends will probably continue into year three, there may be people who start bucking the trends as well, and we’ve got to watch out for that,” Key stated.
The shift to pull-rod suspension, as explained by Key, was dictated by aerodynamics rather than mechanical reasons. This decision underlines the importance of aerodynamic efficiency in contemporary Formula 1 cars.
Balancing Act: Aerodynamics and Mechanical Changes
James Key addressed the challenge of achieving a balance between bold aerodynamic steps and introducing necessary mechanical changes. He commended the Sauber team for their exceptional work on a complex project, emphasizing that aerodynamics dominate the external changes visible on the car.
“It is quite an important project to try and get the balance right, but the team has done a fantastic job with a very difficult project to produce something that should function as planned,” said Key.
Key highlighted the intense competition in the realm of bodywork design, noting that the battleground has shifted significantly compared to previous generations of Formula 1 cars. He explained that the trends Sauber embraced are more extreme than their previous approach, in line with the evolving direction of Formula 1 design.
Innovation Under the Hood: Floor Design and Downforce Generation
While the external changes are attention-grabbing, Key emphasized the importance of innovations underneath the car. He revealed a new concept in the design of the floor, an area critical for generating downforce. Key hinted at a different approach and a new departure for Sauber, aligning with current prolific solutions in Formula 1.
“All of those things are new, there is a lot more under the skin,” Key added, alluding to the intricacies and innovations hidden beneath the surface of the C44.
The C44 is set to hit the track for the first time at a filming day in Barcelona on Friday, providing fans and experts alike the opportunity to witness the team’s bold choices and innovations in action. As Sauber joins the ranks of teams embracing the pull-rod suspension, the 2024 Formula 1 season promises to be an exciting showcase of technological advancements and strategic divergences in pursuit of speed and performance.