Esteban Gutierrez: “Our Pace was too Slow”

It was another point-less day for the Sauber F1 Team at Spa-Francorchamps, as neither Adrian Sutil nor Esteban Gutierrez were able to get anywhere near the top ten due to the power deficit of their Ferrari-powered car.

Sutil was the only driver in the field to start the race on the slower Medium Pirelli tyre, and was making progress through the field until he came across the Williams of Felipe Massa. The German was not able to pass the Brazilian due to the Mercedes power unit in the back of Williams’ superior straight-line speed, and ultimately admitted that fourteenth was the best he could have achieved.

“It was an exciting race, but 14th was the maximum today,” insisted Sutil. “Unfortunately, I got stuck behind Felipe (Massa). As I came in for the pit stop, he also went in at the same time. In some sectors on track I was faster than him, but on the straights he was just too fast. Felipe’s engine was simply too strong and I could not overtake him.

“We then decided to race with a three-stop-strategy, which in the end was the right choice. I felt more comfortable with the soft compound in comparison to the medium tyres. I am satisfied with the procedures over the weekend. The team did a good job without making any mistakes.”

After stopping in qualifying, Gutierrez was hoping to attack right from the start, but despite making a few positions up on the opening laps, struggled to make any more progress after that to finish fifteenth. He knows the pace was too slow, but hopes the development of the car can continue so the team can finally score their first points of 2014.

“It was a tough race,” said Gutierrez. “The race strategy was to attack straight from the beginning on. Unfortunately, it did not work out as expected, but at least I was able to gain some positions during the first laps.

“Throughout the race I struggled a lot with the medium tyres. This aspect made things complicated and put us in a difficult position. Our pace was too slow to finish the race in the points. We need to keep working to be in the top ten as soon as possible.”

Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn felt the team were just not fast enough at Spa, and despite neither the drivers nor the crew making any mistakes, it was never realistic for them to score points. She believes the car is an improvement with the upgrades they’ve brought to the car in recent weeks, and she hopes to finally score their first points in the upcoming races.

“The whole crew delivered a race without any mistakes,” said Kaltenborn. “However, it is disappointing to see that on a track where power and top speed are crucial, we were simply not fast enough.

“For the upcoming events it will be important for us to build on the improvements that we were able to make recently on the chassis side during the last few races.”

Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara believed the result in Belgium was about on par of where he expected them to be. He admitted they had tried a different strategy with Sutil to try and get a better result, but once he had got stuck behind Massa, the German driver was compromised and a better result was not forthcoming.

“This was a disappointing result after a reasonable race,” reflected Dall’Ara. “We expected that we would struggle in dry conditions, and we finally achieved more or less what we could expect.

“We tried something with Adrian’s strategy, starting on the medium tyre, which was clearly slower than the soft. This was working until he got stuck behind Felipe Massa. We then decided to switch to a three-stop strategy, which didn’t work out because Adrian got stuck behind slower cars. In the end, our drivers finished behind each other.”