F1: Sauber tipped as the ‘team to watch’ in 2019 by rivals
McLaren’s Lando Norris says he’s a better driver after missing out on F2 title
Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz Jr have both tipped Alfa Romeo Sauber as a team to fear in the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Charles Leclerc may have left for Ferrari but the return of Kimi Raikkonen is enough to convince Sauber’s midfield rivals that the Swiss team can push on after a strong campaign in 2018. In an all-new driver partnership Raikkonen joins Antonio Giovinazzi on the grid in Sauber colours.
Racing Point driver Perez, who formerly raced for Sauber, told Autosport: “Sauber is a great team. They went through a very difficult period for a couple of years, but now I think with the Ferrari relationship they are coming back.
“You see Fred [Vasseur] is a great team leader and I think they are making great progress. They are definitely the team to watch. They are going to be quite high up. I am looking forward for that.”
McLaren’s Sainz Jr agreed and said: “We should all fear them.”
Meanwhile, Sauber have announced they will launch their 2019 car on the first day of pre-season testing in Barcelona on 18 February. They are the fifth F1 team to confirm their new car launch date.
2019 car launch dates
- 12 February: Renault (Enstone, UK)
- 13 February: Racing Point (Toronto, Canada)
- 14 February: McLaren (TBC)
- 15 February: Ferrari (Maranello, Italy)
- 18 February: Sauber (Barcelona, Spain)
Key dates in 2019
- 18-21 February: test one at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya
- 26 February-1 March: test two at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya
- 17 March: Australian Grand Prix (first race of the season)
- 14 April: Chinese Grand Prix (1,000th F1 GP)
- 14 July: British Grand Prix, Silverstone
- 1 December: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (final race of the season)
Norris: I am now a better driver
McLaren rookie Lando Norris says the experience of missing out on the Formula 2 title last season has helped him become a better driver.
The 19-year-old, who is preparing for his debut season in F1, was beaten to the F2 championship by George Russell. Norris will be joined on the F1 grid by fellow British driver Russell who has signed for Williams.
Speaking to F1.com, Norris said: “In some ways, last year I didn’t win the championship, so it was a good enough year for me to learn that I can’t always win.
“I don’t mean to be arrogant but I’ve always been with good teams, always had good people around me, and that has helped me be a better driver. That has helped me win races and championships. I have been able to experience different things to other drivers.”