Bottas sees potential in new Alfa Romeo Sauber

Valtteri Bottas sees potential in the Alfa Romeo Sauber C42 F1 car

The Alfa Romeo Sauber C42 has potential according to Valtteri Bottas despite striking drama during F1’s opening pre-season test last week.

The Swiss-squad recorded the scarcely more than 800km after a series of issues blighting its progress.

New recruit Zhou Guanyu (as his name is written by the team) was responsible for the bulk of the mileage, the Chinese driver logged just 523km.

Bottas managed the fewest laps of all regular drivers to take part in the three-day hit out, but still managed to gain an initial impression of the car.

The Finn joins the team this season after a five-year stint with Mercedes, helping the team to win the constructors’ championship in all five seasons.

He had his first appearance with Sauber at the end of 2021 at the post-season Abu Dhabi test before shaking down the C42 in Fiorano earlier this month.

Barcelona, however, was his first opportunity to get an extended stint behind the wheel, ultimately recording just 252km despite taking to the circuit on all three days.

“I got some kind of feeling, or course, and the nice feeling is that I definitely feel there is potential,” said the 10-time grand prix winner.

“There’s some strong areas in the car in certain types of corners, but also of course immediately noticed points to work on with the balance, with some of the behaviour.”

With limited running, many unknowns remain for the team which will now review the data it gathered in Spain ahead of the next pre-season test in Bahrain.

“It feels like we’re still in very early stages of actually discovering the car,” Bottas said.

“For me, it was quite limited running that we had only with two different tyre compounds, only with quite a very few setup changes, so there’s still so much more to discover.

“That’s why we’re really aiming to work hard between the tests and hopefully get to get a bit better understanding in Bahrain.

“But there’s work to do,” he added.

“I’m not saying anything against that, but also I feel like there is potential in this package, and I’m looking forward to discover more about it with the team.”

Sauber was not along in suffering porpoising, and like most teams overcame the issue by raising the ride height on the car.

However, it’s a solution that takes the car out of its optimal performance window, with the team’s technical director hoping changes to the floor can address the issue.

“We didn’t expect we didn’t anticipate that,” admitted Jan Monchaux.

“We had discussed during the last months about this kind of phenomenon that could happen, but since none of our tools – our wind tunnel and also out simulations tools – were [not] giving a hint of it, we were a bit taken aback.”

Porpoising is an aerodynamic phenomenon that effectively sees the car bounce while at speed.

It can be set off by a number of factors including the airflow under the car’s floor stalling, reducing the downforce being generated which results in the car’s ride height raising.

As the airflow is restored the downforce returns and sucks the car to the ground, whereupon the process is repeated.

It’s an issue that teams encountered when ground effects were last in the sport in the early 1980s and has been seen on other aerodynamic devices at points over the years since.

In Spain, most every teams suffered from it to some degree.

“I would suspect, I don’t know, that we are going to get that under control with some modification, mainly on the floor, that allows us to get a bit closer to optimum” Monchaux said.

“But with the current state of the rules, I would also expect that we will have to settle slightly higher than we all saw at the beginning.

“The question will be how much higher? Three, five millimetres, or is it 20? I hope it’s going to be five because then the rework on the car will be less.”

Alfa Romeo Sauber unveiled its 2022 livery on Sunday morning in Spain, having completed the Barcelona test with a special camouflage livery on the C42.

Bahrain hosts the next pre-season test with three days of running starting from March 10.

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