Pit Stop Miscommunication Costs Sauber in Austria

The Austrian Grand Prix for the Sauber F1 Team was another one of disappointment in a season of disappointments in 2014. Adrian Sutil finished down in thirteenth while Esteban Gutierrez was nineteenth and last after a nightmare pit stop and a subsequent stop/go penalty for an unsafe release.

Gutierrez’s pit stop on lap twelve saw him released without the right rear wheel attached properly, and was forced to stop the car about 20 metres later. He was dragged back into his pit box to allow the wheel to be fitted properly but was then handed a ten-second stop/go penalty for an unsafe release. The Mexican was disappointed with the whole race at the Red Bull Ring, and believed the compromise the team made to try and get better race pace over qualifying pace did not work as planned.

“It was not a satisfying race,” admitted Gutierrez. “We made a mistake during the first pit stop, as the wheel nut on the right rear wheel was not secured, so I had to stop in the pit lane and my mechanics had to pull me back. Afterwards, I got a ten second stop and go penalty.

“Apart from this incident, I was trying to get the most out of the car. I got a lot of blue flags, so I had to let other cars by, which resulted in slower lap times. We tried by compromising qualifying in order to get a better race pace, but it didn’t seem to pay off. It was difficult to keep the tyres alive.”

Adrian Sutil finished thirteenth but was given misinformation to stop the car when Sauber were meant to be stopping Gutierrez after his pit stop drama. Luckily for the German, he was able to continue when the mistake was noticed. Aside for this communication error, Sutil felt it was a good race, even if he could not score points for the team.

“From a driving perspective, it was a good race,” said Sutil. “I had a good start and was able to gain two positions on the first lap. Up to lap 15, after my first pit stop, everything went according to our plan.

“Suddenly, I got the instruction through the radio to stop the car immediately. However, the radio communication was not for me, but for Esteban. After telling me this I immediately continued in the race, but I had already lost quite a lot of time due to this incident.”

Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn was dissatisfied with what went down in the pit stop, and has promised to look at the procedures that went drastically wrong. She praised her drivers for the efforts they showed on track despite finishing well outside the points.

“Our work today is not acceptable,” said Kaltenborn. “Such a mistake at a pit stop must simply not happen. We will carefully look into our procedures and the consequences, and we will take appropriate measures. Today, both drivers put in good performances, but this doesn’t help when we make mistakes. We cannot afford that.

“Concerning the event in Spielberg, I would like to forward a big thank you to the organisers and the spectators for welcoming us to this great race and creating such a fantastic atmosphere.”

Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara was in agreement with his Team Principal, and was disappointed about what went on at the time of Gutierrez’s pit stop.

“What we delivered today is inexcusable,” said Dall’Ara. “Our performance was decent, considering our potential, but the mistakes at the pit stop spoiled our race. Procedures were not adhered to. As a result we stopped the wrong car on the track.

“Equally unacceptable was Esteban’s first pit stop, during which he was released although the wheel nut on his rear right wheel didn’t go on. At the same time, Adrian, who was out on the track, was stopped by a radio communication which was simply a huge mistake.“