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Sauber surprised others did not switch to “quicker” F1 pull-rod suspension

Sauber is surprised that other Formula 1 teams did not make the switch to a Red Bull-style pull-rod front suspension this year, considering it is clearly “quicker”.

Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber C44

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The Hinwil-based squad has moved away from its previous push-rod arrangement at the front to follow a trend that had been started by Red Bull and McLaren.

Sauber technical director James Key had anticipated that, with those two teams having put the pull-rod front to such good use, it was an obvious design avenue to go down.

However, RB proved to be the only other squad which went that way – with everyone else sticking to their 2023 layout.

Asked if he was surprised that more teams did not follow suit, Key said: “I was a bit, actually. I expected at least one other to pop out with a pull-rod.

“But it's got to kind of stack up. It's got to stack up aerodynamically because, despite all the pain of trying to do it, it's definitely a quicker car.

“It's a conclusion we drew at McLaren early on, and obviously Red Bull have always had it. And the work done at Sauber, I mean, it was April/June when they were looking at the wind tunnel and CFD results, and they clearly showed that the benefit is big enough. So I'm a little surprised that others haven't.”

Key explained that early running of the new suspension in Bahrain testing last week had been encouraging, although there are still improvements to be made.

 

“There's a few things I feel we need to squeeze out of that a bit more,” he said. “I was a little bit late [joining] for that, but fundamentally it does exactly what it should do. 

“What's been really nice with this car, and I've very much noticed this when I arrived at Sauber, is that things that come out of the simulator, things that come out of a logical process of investigating on a particular mechanical side, seem to correlate very well.

“It's a very pure car. It gets out the results you expect. It's not too noisy, which is really good to see. So, yeah, the front suspension is working as expected.”

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Beyond the suspension change, Sauber’s new C44 offered some promising signs of potential in testing, even though how it stacks up against the competition is not clear right now.

Reflecting on the test, Key said: “I think we ticked quite a few boxes. There's still definitely work to do, and in every respect there is still performance to be found.

“But I think through-corner efficiency is better, certainly. Through-corner balance is better, and we've got some mechanical tools now which improve that as well, and which we didn't have last year.

“It's allowed the drivers to do different things that they could never have done last year too, just on that basis.

“We're exploring all this still at the moment, actually in real life, but it's a more complete car, I think, than last year's car.”

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