By Alan Baldwin
JEREZ, Spain, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Sauber showed off their new Formula One car on Sunday with German driver Adrian Sutil hungry for success after a winter of weight-watching.
Embarking on a fresh chapter after spending all his career to date with Force India, Sutil is one of the bigger drivers in a sport whose rule changes this year favour the lighter and smaller men more than ever.
"Of course the training is going on as usual, but more focused on losing weight," the 31-year-old said in a video interview on the Swiss team's website at the online launch of the Ferrari-powered C33.
"I'm a tall driver and I was always on the limit with the weight. But now I have to reduce the last few kilos. I'm on it already. I haven't eaten too much over Christmas and New Year."
The new turbocharged V6 engines and energy recovery systems are heavier than last year's V8s and teams have found it a challenge to get the cars down to minimum weights that will increase more substantially in 2015.
The heavier the driver, the more weight in the car and the greater the disadvantage because there is less ballast to distribute for balance.
Sutil is 1.84 metres tall and weighs in at around 77kg, compared to Williams' little Brazilian Felipe Massa who is a mere 1.66m and tips the scales at 60kg.
The German told Reuters earlier this month that while every kilo made a difference, there was only so much he could do.
"I'm getting there but it will be difficult," the 31-year-old said then. "There is of course a limit that you don't want to go over and lose energy. Hopefully the car is not too heavy and we find a good solution just for this year."
Sutil has taken 99 as his racing number now that drivers can choose a permanent one, rather than changing every year depending on championship position, and he explained why.
"Everyone is probably aiming for the low numbers. I went for the highest number. I am aiming at the maximum," he said.
Sauber, who have Mexican Esteban Gutierrez as their other race driver, had a financially fraught 2013 and also struggled in the first half of that season before finishing strongly after Pirelli made changes to the tyres.
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said the team had learnt from the experience but refused to make any predictions.
"Any impression of how the teams stand against each other will only emerge once winter testing has been completed," she said, with the first test due to start in Jerez on Tuesday.
"That is also when we will announce our goals for the 2014 season. One thing's for sure: reliability will be of the essence, especially at the beginning of the season."
The lines of the new car were more fluid than some others unveiled so far, with the low nose also appearing a more aesthetic solution.
Chief designer Eric Gandelin said the car running in Jerez would lack some performance parts due to be added at the next two tests in Bahrain.
"This gives us time to maximise the development of these performance relevant parts, and on the other hand we can run the car during the first test and check all the systems, which we feel is crucial, considering all the technical changes," he said. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Martyn Herman.)