Sauber F1 faced a disappointing weekend at Spa-Francorchamps with both cars finishing out of the points and Nico Hulkenburg struggling for balance.
Hulkenburg started the race with promise as he moved off the grid but the performance of the car soon started to suffer, leaving the German unable to improve on his pace. “I was able to improve a couple of positions at the start. It was tight but I managed quite well. I had a good first lap, but the pace was missing pretty much from the beginning.
“The car was difficult to drive. We were lacking a good balance throughout the whole weekend and during the race, and the tyres started to go off pretty quickly. We had to pit earlier than planned. Overall, we were simply missing speed today.”
Team-mate Esteban Gutiérrez started the race from down in twenty-first place after a dis pointing qualifying, following good lap times and tyre management he was able to make his way through the field up to fourteenth place by the end of the race after a penalty for overtaking Pastor Maldonado whilst off the circuit, gaining an unfair advantage.
“From where I started I had to make progress and be clever about how much I could push. It was a matter of finding the right balance between pushing and taking care of the tyres, and I found that balance pretty well. I just focused on being as quick as possible, trying to manage the tyres well and getting the most out of the car.”
“We lost a lot of time in the first stint with the traffic I encountered as I was coming from the back of the field. The strategy we planed was not ideal, so we had to change it and that still wasn’t perfect. I totally respect the FIA ‘s decision to penalise me for overtaking Pastor, but I don’t agree with the penalty. To be able to fight and to extract the maximum today is good to know. Now we have to improve in qualifying, because I think with the pace we have we can still fight for the top ten.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal saw positives in the race but was overall disappointed with the way the weekend panned out. “We expected more this weekend. On a performance level, we were able to close the gap to our direct competitors. However, we weren’t able to translate that into points. We have to have a look at the data as to why Nico’s performance decreased during the race. Esteban did a good job, but the drive through penalty made it impossible for him to score points.”