The Sauber Formula One team today unveiled their new car for the 2005 season, one day ahead of its track debut at Valencia.
Sauber were scheduled to launch the car in an event in Malaysia but cancelled it after the Asian tsunami disaster. The team had planned a January 11 launch in Kuala Lumpur to mark Malaysian oil sponsor Petronas's 10th anniversary in Formula One.
Instead, the Swiss squad today unveiled the C24 before Brazilian Felipe Massa completes the first laps with it in Valencia tomorrow.
"In the course of last year the C23 revealed major development potential, so it was a logical step to base the C24's concept on that of its predecessor. Changes were made wherever we were able to identify opportunities for improvement," said technical director Willy Rampf.
"Our experience with the C23 had clearly shown the significant influence of the sidepods and the rear bodywork on aerodynamics. That's why the continuation of our development was consistently directed towards these areas, in which we have designed the car to be even more compact and harmonious."
The C24 will be powered by the Petronas 05A engine, which corresponds to the V10 to be used by World Champions Ferrari as well. With regards to the gearbox, Sauber have returned to a design of their own after using Ferrari's in 2004.
A major change has come about in the tyre sector as the team switched to Michelin.
"We expect a measurable improvement from this change and have certainly seen the first indications of this during initial test drives last year," said team principal Peter Sauber.
"Our goal is to further reduce the gap between ourselves and the front runners. Yet to what extent this will impact on the results cannot be predicted at the moment. We won't have any indications as to how well the individual teams have managed to adjust to the new regulations until after the season opener at Melbourne."
Canadian Jacques Villeneuve joins the team to partner Massa, the former World Champion having signed a two-year deal.
"During the tests at the end of last year, I got a very good impression of both the C23 and the team. I'm extremely motivated and determined to support Sauber in moving ahead further," said the Canadian.
Massa, who drove for the team in 2002 and 2004, added: "No other team improved as much during the course of last year as Sauber did. If we manage to take this momentum with us into the new season, a few people will be in for a surprise."