The Sauber F1 team head into the Bahrain Grand Prix having failed to score a point in the opening two races of the season. Both Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez failed to see the chequered flag last time out in Malaysia, but in the opening round in Australia finished eleventh and twelfth, albeit a lap behind race winner Nico Rosberg.
Reserve driver Giedo van der Garde will get his first taste of this years Sauber in the first free practice session, taking over the car from Gutierrez who will return for the second session. Since testing in Bahrain pre-season, the team have put some upgrades onto their car, as during those eight days of testing, the drivers were struggling with what they had been given.
“We went testing in Bahrain twice before the start of the season and were not happy with the performance of the car, which had a lot to do with a lack of straightline speed and some issues under braking,” said Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara.
“However, since then, we have improved the car in different areas, particularly under braking. In addition, the performance in medium and high speed corners is quite good as well. However, we still have room for improvement in low speed corners, and the straightline speed is still an issue.”
“We are constantly working on fine tuning all the systems with the goal to provide the drivers with a car which gives them the confidence to push it to the limits. In addition, we will continue our weight saving programme during the upcoming races.“
Adrian Sutil says this years race in Bahrain will be different to previous years due to the race taking place at night. Last year the German driver started in sixth position but fell to thirteenth at the finish after a early-race collision with Jean-Eric Vergne and van der Garde.
“This year Bahrain will host a night race, so it won’t be as hot, and the data collected during the pre-season tests will only be of limited significance, which makes it interesting,” said Sutil. “The tyres especially will behave differently, but we can go back to our data from the night race in Singapore. Night races are always interesting and provide a great backdrop for the spectators. It is special to drive at night.
“We have spent a lot of days testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, but driving there was always fun.”
Team-mate Esteban Gutierrez is hopeful the upgrades will enable the team to move forward, while the cooler temperatures during the night race will help them the tyre temperatures be more stable on the Sauber.
“Bahrain is a track which we all know pretty well from testing,” said Gutierrez. “We have good references from there, and it will be very interesting to come back and to see what our improvements are in comparison to the first two races.
“Based on what we learnt from the first two races, I think we can make another step in terms of drivability. We made improvements on the braking and I believe we can push these even further. Everyone in our team and Ferrari are doing their best to get things done properly.
“Besides that, it will be a nice feeling to race for the first time in Bahrain at night. I do believe the track in Bahrain will also help us to have more stable tyre temperatures as the weather will be good.”