With only three races to go in 2014, the Sauber F1 Team face the real possibility of failing to score points in a season for the first time in their long history as the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi left them struggling once more; Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil finished fifteenth and sixteenth respectively.
Gutierrez ran inside the top ten after running a long first stint, but dropped back to fifteenth at the end of the race, was admitted his frustration that despite a clean race he finished outside the points once more.
“It was a clean race with an interesting first part,” insisted Gutierrez. “We were betting on having a safety car period during the first stint, and this is why we extended this run. It was not ideal for the strategy, but we took that risk and hoped to gain an advantage. In the end, the safety car did not come out.
“Although I think the way the tyres were behaving and the way the car drove was pretty enjoyable, on the other hand finishing in P15 was very frustrating, after a race where almost everything went very well. However, we will keep fighting until the end of the season to have a chance to score points.”
Team-mate Sutil had a quick spin after contact with the Lotus of Romain Grosjean but admitted the strategy to run the medium tyre in the first stint was not ideal, and he had to drop back as the soft tyre was shown to be the best option. He was hoping for a safety car period that was not forthcoming.
“The start on the medium tyres was difficult, as I had almost no grip,” stated Sutil. “In addition, several drivers behind me put the soft compound on, which was a clear advantage. In Turn 1 I had no space and was forced to drop back. It was very slippery on this set; I lost some time in every corner and, as a result, positions.
“We decided to go for an early pit stop in order to change to the soft tyres. Afterwards I was able to continue the race without major incidents, although the grip level reduced towards the end. We knew that the start on the medium tyres was a risky strategy in case there was no safety car period. In the end, no safety car came out. However, it was in general difficult to finish the race in the points with our pace. We still need to do our best during the upcoming races.”
Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn knew the race would be tough for her team without the safety car, and was proved right with their drivers fifteenth and sixteenth at the flag.
“We went into the race knowing that, under normal circumstances, things would be difficult for our team,” said Kaltenborn. “Therefore we opted for a strategy which would have been beneficial in case of a safety car period. However, this didn’t work out, so we were not in a position to fight for points.”