MAY 21, 2003
Jani's first proper test for Sauber
Rising star Neel Jani has been given his first proper test in Valencia. The 19-year-old Swiss driver had previously carried out some straight-line running at the Vairano testing facility in Italy, doing aerodynamic mapping work to check that the car is the same on the road as it is in the windtunnel.
Jani completed 60 laps and like many young drivers new to F1 found that the work was rather tiring. The team expected this to happen but has been quietly impressed by Jani's speed and maturity. The team is keen to see how he does in the next tests before which he will have time to do some more physical preparations.
Although the team is not saying anything about the future, it is clear that Jani is being evaluated for a possible job racing for Sauber next year. The current driver line-up of Nick Heidfeld and Heinz-Harald Frentzen is not expected to continue unchanged next year and Sauber is always on the lookout for new talent. Current rumours suggest that one possible course of action is for the team to race with Felipe Massa again next year, the Brazilian having spent this year as a Ferrari test driver. Massa drove for Sauber last year and showed great potential and it is thought that Ferrari would like to see him getting back into racing as soon as possible. There is a long-term expectation that Massa will eventually join the Ferrari team although everyone involved denies it.
Jani is currently racing and winning in the new Renault V6 Eurocup series, which will come into the international spotlight for the first time at Monaco where there will be a race supporting the Formula 1 Grand Prix.