Image credits: © Sauber.

2002 Sauber C21

For the start of 2002 campaign, Sauber is determined to defend its fourth place in the 2001 Constructors Champoinship.

The C21 is a completely new car that evolved from the successful C20. The principal aim of the development programm has been to maintain the excellent consistency and performance of the C20 while achieving an improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, not just in terms of the most favourable ratio of downforce against drag, but also in areas such as engine cooling. However, weight reduction, a lower centre of gravity, superior torsional rigidity and further optimisation of the engine and gearbox packaging were also priorities.

Team Sauber continues its commitment to young drivers. Nick Heidfeld, a 24 year-old German, who joined for his second season followed by 20 year-old Brazilian Felipe Massa, the reigning Euro 3000 series champion.

Source - Sauber
Founded by Peter Sauber in the 1970s, the Sauber F1 Team is a Swiss Formula One team. Sauber was motivated to defend its excellent fourth place in the 2001 FIA Formula One World Championship for Constructors at the beginning of its 2002 campaign. Evolved from the popular C20, the C21 was a brand new car but featuring the same excellent consistency and performance of its predecessor. Developed with a wheelbase of 3080mm, the C21 featured an overall length of 4450 mm, a width of 1800 mm, height of 1000 mm and weighed around 1322.8 lbs.

Technical director Willy Rampf and his 24-strong team designed the Sauber C21 with an effort at improving aerodynamic efficiency. Not just in terms of the most favorable ratio of down force against drag, but also in areas like engine cooling. Other important concerns were weight reduction, superior torsional rigidity, a lower center of gravity and further optimization of the engine and gearbox packaging.

The C21 was similar to the C20 except with modifications to the radiators position, rear bodywork and suspension setup. Though they worked hard to improve the C21 from the C20, the team wasn't able to match its effort for 2001, mostly because of the lack of an in-house wind tunnel. The team shifted its focus to the next year's C22 and the wind tunnel worked ceased in August. Eventually one would become operational during the 2004 season, but at this present time it wasn't available.

Competing in the 2002 Formula One Season, the Sauber C21 was driven by Nick Heidfeld, the 24-year old German in his second season with the team, 20 year-old Brazilian Felipe Massa, the reigning Euro 3000 series champion and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Continuing to use Ferrari engines rebadged in tribute to title sponsor Petronas, a sponsor that had been in effect since 1997. Nearly identical to its predecessor, the C21 featured a blue, turquoise/teal and white color scheme. The uniform was in deference from sponsors Petronas and Credit Suisse. Also found on the C21's airbox was a tribute to sponsor Red Bull.

The team used derivatives from the previous year's 051 engine throughout the 2002 season, which had then been used by the Ferrari team in its own F2001 chassis. With a rear wheel drive option, the car was available with a 2.9 liter, 4-cylinder engine and a 7-speed longitudinal automatic sequential transmission. Two improvements in performance were made during the course of the season to the gearbox and traction control system, but despite these enhancements, the team's form dropped near the end of the year. Both front and rear suspension was available with lower and upper wishbones, inboard springs and dampers and actuated by push-rods. The chassis had been produced with carbon fiber monocoque and the brakes featured carbon discs, all around. Unfortunately also, it cost 13 million to purchase the year's engine supply, though it was a dependable and powerful choice.

During the beginning part of the year the C21 proved itself to be a speedy competitor. Sauber was the fifth fastest team behind Ferrari, Williams, McLaren and Renault. Heidfeld and Massa were eliminated from the Australian Grand Prix during the first corner accident, but they took a double-points finish in Malaysia. Massa scored in his second ever Grand Prix.

At Barcelona additional points were won, and single points taken by Heidfeld at Hockenheim and Silverstone, and also by Massa at the Nürburgring. Unfortunately technical problems and driver errors made the C21 unable to score other points. At Interlagos Heidfeld's brakes failed, and he was delayed by a radio communications issue at Imola and collided hard with the lapped Takuma Sato's Jordan after losing control under braking at the Austrian Grand Prix. Electronic problems also occurred in Canada for both Heidfeld and Massa, caused them to exceed the pitlane speed limit and incur penalties.

At the Italian Grand Prix Massa also retired following driver errors and collisions with other cars. He received the sport's inaugural ten-place grid penalty for the next race and Indianapolis due to his contact with Pedro de la Rosa's Jaguar. Sauber chose to replace him with the more experienced Heinz-Harald Frentzen for that race. The 2003 season went smoothly following this transition.

Heidfeld on the other hand only retired from three races, but the C21 slipped off the pace in the end portion of the championship. Because of this Sauber didn't score any points in the final five Grand Prix. This drop in performance happened at Spa where drivers could only qualify in 17th and 18th positions. Even though improvement rose at the next races, the team was still considered quite fortunately in keeping its eventual fifth place in the Constructors' Championship, ahead of the burgeoning Jordan, BAR and Jaguar teams.


By Jeremy McMullen

Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen
Germany Nick Lars Heidfeld
Brazil Felipe Massa

Switzerland Sauber Petronas

2002 Season
Points: 11
Position: 5
Engine: Petronas 02A

2005 Entry: C24
2004 Entry: C23
2003 Entry: C22

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