Sauber F1 Team‘s Marcus Ericsson says a breakthrough in the way the Swiss team manages their tyres is the reason behind their recent performances.
Sauber have been on the back foot for majority of the season, having to run with a year-old Ferrari engine. But the team have recently turned a corner in the dying moments of the season.
Ericsson was running in the points for most of the Mexican Grand Prix, before losing track position due to the Virtual Safety Car and later, was forced to retire due to a “technical issue around the rear inboard suspension”.
The Swedish driver, whose yet to score any points this year, told Motorsport.com that the team have struggled to find the small window where the tyres work the best but believe they’ve found it.
“The tyres this year are more conservative, less peaky and do not degrade so much, but there is still a small window where they work the best and give the best available grip,” said Ericsson.
“My feeling is we’ve been wrong there for most of the year, we haven’t been working on it in the best place. Now, we have found some stuff the last couple of weekends which has helped us a lot to improve that and it’s all about the temperature and controlling the temperature of the tyres.”
“We have worked the tyres a bit differently, a bit different temperature windows and that seems to be helping us quite a lot. It’s been a big breakthrough for us.”
The Swede felt that Mexico was his chance to grab a point in the race, his first since the Italian Grand Prix in 2015. After a positive start to the race, Ericsson ran into the top 10 for more than thirty laps before the VSC came out.
“The start of the race was really good and the first stint was really competitive,” he said.
“To run inside the top 10 for the first 30 laps was really good. We timed the pitstop really well.”
“Then the virtual safety car came at the worst possible moment for us and ruins our race. “We lost out to both McLaren’s and Felipe Massa Without that, I think we would have kept position and been fighting with Fernando Alonso for tenth towards the end of the race.”
“It’s a shame, but that’s how it is sometimes. It felt like we did everything right today. But the luck was not on our side.”