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BMW Sauber expect ‘significant improvement’ in Australia 19 Mar 2010

Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) BMW Sauber C29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 13 March 2010 Willi Rampf (SUI) BMW Sauber Chassis Technical Director. BMW Sauber Launch, Valencia, Spain, Sunday 31 January 2010. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber C29 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 13 March 2010 Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) Arrows scored a point for sixth place in his first Formula One race. Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne. 7 March 1999. World © Sutton

Many pundits had tipped BMW Sauber as one of the dark horses for 2010 after their promising pace in pre-season testing. That promise failed to materialise in Bahrain with a double DNF, but having rested and regrouped the Swiss team are predicting far better things for round two in Australia.

Neither Pedro de la Rosa nor Kamui Kobayashi progressed beyond Q2 at Sakhir - the Swiss team’s first outing since BMW’s departure - and both men subsequently retired from the race with hydraulic problems. However, technical director Willy Rampf believes they are now on top of the issues.

"After our disappointing performance in Bahrain we have to make up for a lot in Australia,” he commented. “The failures were caused by hydraulic leaks in both cases, but for different reasons. For both problems we will have solutions ready.”

Given their early exit in Bahrain - Kobayashi on lap 12 of 49, De la Rosa on lap 29 - drawing conclusions about BMW Sauber’s true race pace was difficult. That notwithstanding, Rampf is confident both the Japanese and the Spaniard will have a much quicker car under them at Albert Park next weekend.

“We have analysed the data and drawn conclusions accordingly,” he stated. “I expect us to be significantly more competitive in Melbourne.”

While Kobayashi has only ever driven the temporary street circuit on a simulator, De la Rosa is a veteran of three Australian Grand Prix starts, with a best finish of sixth place on his Formula One race debut with Arrows back in 1999. As to whether that experience will count for much in 2010, he is unsure.

“My last race there was in 2002 and in 2005 I drove in Friday practice,” explained the former McLaren tester. “This means I definitely have some memories of the track, but it will be like learning a new one for me.”

Nevertheless, he too is expecting an improvement on Bahrain, concluding: “I believe we will be more competitive in Melbourne.”