During both free practice sessions at the first day back in Europe, Sauber suffered several setbacks, as Giedo van der Garde, Esteban Gutiérrez and Adrian Sutil had technical issues that prevented the Hinwil-based outfit to maximise the potential of the updated Ferrari-powered C33.
Van der Garde, who replaced Gutiérrez in FP1, suffered with a brake issue that almost caused the Dutch driver to collide with a wall at one point, which could have caused further problems for the team: “It was not a good session for me, as I struggled quite a lot. We had a few issues with the reliability of the car. We had problems with braking during downshifting, which created a lot of oversteer. If we can solve this issue, I think we can further improve.”
The Mexican driver, who is now in the throws on his second season with Sauber said that his confidence was not at its best, as well as trying to adapt to the new package that the team have brought to Barcelona: “We had some issues with the power unit, so we lost quite a lot of time on track, which makes it more difficult to get a proper feeling for the car. However, we will do our best to sort these things out.” The Power Unit issues that he suffered were due to an ERS issue towards the end of the session, which was confirmed by Head of Track Engineering, Giampaolo Dall’Arra.
Sutil was able to put aside the minor issues that needed solving in the morning session, and showed improvements that will help the team move forward, but the German admitted that there was still work ahead. He is hopeful of a possible top ten end to qualifying in Spain tomorrow: “We definitely made a step forward today. I had a good feeling about the potential of our car, and during the afternoon was able to witness this. My fast lap was ok, but I think we can improve in every corner. We are going in the right direction.”
Dall’Arra said that the day was far from being a perfect trial for the revised car, which has been upgraded in the form of the weight reduction, aerodynamics and cooling. He said that there was a positive outcome with the running that Sutil had done during both sessions, placing highest of the two drivers in 13th: “On Adrian’s car we could see we had made a step forward with the modifications we brought to Barcelona. The midfield is very close together, and Adrian was not far away from a top ten position. The difference to Esteban was quite significant, which had to do with some set-up issues. We will have a lot of work to do tonight, but I’m confident we can further optimise the performance.”