Sauber duo struggling for Pace in Red Bull Ring Practice

Sauber struggled for pace in Austria on Friday - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

It was a difficult day at the Red Bull Ring for the Sauber F1 Team, with Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson finishing nineteenth and twentieth in both free practice sessions on Friday, with both over a second down on anyone else.

Although a lot of data was gathered, Mercedes-Benz-protégé Wehrlein admits there is a clear gap to Sauber’s rivals this weekend, with the power deficit of the 2016 Ferrari power unit more evident down the many straights of the Red Bull Ring track.

“It was a difficult day for us,” said Wehrlein. “There is a clear gap to our direct competitors, which was to be expected due to the many straights.

“We had some difficulties on the car side, especially during the second free practice session. However, we were able to collect a lot of data, and are working on analysing it now in order to improve the performance of our car for tomorrow.”

Ericsson ended up at the back of the field in both sessions, and after a mechanical issue in free practice one, he completed 51 laps in the afternoon, but the Swede knows there is a lot to do in order to find any kind of competitiveness this weekend.

“It has not been the smoothest day for us, as we had some issues in FP1, which started with a mechanical problem during the first run,” said Ericsson. “We were not able to complete more than 12 laps, which was an unfortunate start to the day.

“FP2 went better, we managed to cover a lot of laps and worked on aerodynamic and mechanical tests, which helps us to understand the car better. Our next step is to sit down with the engineers and find a way to optimise our car set-up for the rest of the weekend.”