Sauber is confident that it will continue to have a tire management advantage in 2012 having made retaining that characteristic its "primary" goal with the new C31.
According to chief designer Matt Morris, keeping tire degradation minimized has been a fundamental part of the design concept for the new car. This is despite tackling the tire warm-up problems that blighted the team during qualifying last season through changes both to the front and rear suspension.
"That was our primary goal, to make sure that we maintain our good tire management and also get the flexibility to allow more setup changes, particularly in qualifying," he said when asked if he expected Sauber to continue to have a tire advantage.
"It is always a compromise between qualifying and the race. We've got some very good guys back at the factory working in the performance group continually trying to understand the tires and what we need to do in terms of car setup to get the most out of the tires.
"Last year, we suffered a lot in qualifying, so that [improving setup options] has been a big priority for us this year. We have got new front and rear suspension, which allows us lots more setup tools, so we feel that this is one of the areas that we need to focus on. There are a lot of other areas, including how we deal with the exhausts, and again we have spent a lot of time over the winter developing those areas."
Morris added that the car is almost entirely comprised of new parts, but that the design philosophy that drove last year's Sauber C30 has been carried over. He also confirmed that the team has a busy schedule of upgrades in the works, although the upcoming tests will have a big influence on the schedule for improvements.
"Pretty much the whole car is new in terms of the chassis," he said. "All of the suspension is new, so there is very little carryover.
"In terms of development, we have a very busy three tests ahead of us, which will hopefully give us some direction. It's hard to put upgrade timelines in place, but after testing we will know a lot more. The chassis has been designed around a much tighter package, but although it's tight, it's flexible in allowing us to introduce lots of different aerodynamic developments that we've got between now and Melbourne. The exhaust regulations have also been a big challenge.
"We have a base car here that we are rolling out to test lots of different options. We feel we have put in place a very flexible car to challenge for points coring positions."