The Sauber F1 team arrive in Monaco still having failed to score points during the 2014 season. The opening rounds eleventh and twelfth place finishes for Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez still remain the team’s best result of the season. A lighter and aerodynamically updated car arrived for the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago, but the team still found themselves languishing deep in the midfield, and remain stuck on zero points alongside Marussia and Caterham.
Sutil finished fifth in Monaco in 2013 for Force India with a very strong drive including some stunning overtaking manoeuvres including one on Fernando Alonso at the Hairpin. His 2014 season has been mediocre at best, failing to score a point in the opening four events, but with the unique nature of the circuit in Monte Carlo, he is hopeful of breaking into the points.
“The Monaco Grand Prix is a very nice event every year,” said Sutil. “I really like the track. For us, the most important aspect will be that our car works well and we can achieve a good performance. My objective is to travel back home with some points in my pocket.
“Looking back, I have good memories from the races in Monte Carlo as I collected some points almost every year. Last year it was an exciting race for me, which I finished in fifth position. It is always a special Grand Prix, and I am looking forward to it.” Team-mate Gutierrez will be making his second appearance in F1 at Monaco, and will want to improve on the thirteenth position he achieved in 2013. Like Sutil, he has yet to score a point, but he admits the challenge of the Monaco circuit is something that excites him.
“The street circuit in Monaco is a very special track and one of my favourites on the calendar,” said Gutierrez. “As the track has many slow speed corners, we need to have a stable car. Our focus will be to get things sorted out and to make sure we are on target.
“What I like the most in Monte Carlo is driving on the narrow track between the guardrails. It is very challenging as you don’t have a lot of space, and for a perfect lap you get very close to the barriers. The closer you get, the more you are pushing to the limit, so using every centimetre of the track. It is very exciting and racing on the streets of Monte Carlo is always a different kind of feeling.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, the head of Track Engineering at Sauber, is confident the upgrades to the car made since the test in Barcelona will bring them closer to the points. He hopes the team can make gains especially in qualifying, as he knows the track offers little opportunity for overtaking manoeuvres due to its tight and twisty layout and the Armco barriers lining the circuit.
“The race in Monaco has a unique character and it’s a real challenge for drivers and engineers,” said Dall’Ara. “Our main focus for lap times will be on mechanical grip and rear end stability. The power unit has a lesser relevance than in most of the other circuits, however, good torque progression and general driveability will make a difference. We are confident of having made a further step forward at the test in Barcelona, so we will be introducing some updates to the aerodynamic package and the rear suspension.
“In the last couple of years we’ve been witnessing some strong pace management in the race in order to minimise the number of pit stops, possibly bringing it down to a single one. The lack of overtaking opportunities around the circuit make a good qualifying very relevant.”