Sergio Perez believes his Sauber team has made a big step forward with its car at Barcelona, after a troubled start to its preseason testing program.
The new C31 was plagued with reliability issues in the first two tests, but the team now appears on top of its problems – and Perez is upbeat about the way it is getting itself in shape for the first race.
"I think things are coming together definitely," said the Mexican. "They are getting better than they were last week, so we are moving in the right direction. Here, I have to say I am very happy with the car and the performance. I feel comfortable with the car, so we are moving in the right direction.
"I think in many areas we have more information which we could not get before, especially me. I could not get information from the car because every time I tried there were problems, but now I think we have a good grip on the car. We have tried much stuff in the long runs, and short runs as well, so everything is going OK."
Perez thinks the new Sauber is an improvement on its predecessor when it comes to switching on its tires for single-lap performance, even though that appears to have come at the expense of its ability to look after its rubber over longer distances.
"We are turning on the tire a lot better than we used to do last year," he said. "On this we are positive, and I think it has been a good step forward. But the tires have a big degradation compared to last year. Although if I remember last year in testing, we had the same and when we went racing, everything changed."
Perez does not expect Sauber to bring any big update package for the first race in Australia, and he thinks the outfit will be fighting in a similar position in the midfield at the start of the campaign, with improvements to come after that.
"I think we are more or less where we were last year with our package, at the moment, but I think we are looking good and the team is doing a good job so I think we can move forward from that position. We will see in Melbourne where we end up."