Frederic Vasseur saw his two drivers, Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc, have very different races at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday, with the duo having differing fortunes with their tyres.
The team principal of the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team watched as Leclerc enjoyed the Soft compound tyre in the early stages before finding it hard to get the same kind of performance from the Medium compound, while Ericsson seemed to come alive when switching to the harder compound.
Leclerc suffered a spin on his way to nineteenth and last of the drivers who took the chequered flag, while Ericsson profited from Pierre Gasly’s penalty to be classified sixteenth.
“The race had two different sides for us,” said Vasseur. “We had both drivers on a one-stop strategy, starting on the soft, and changing to medium tyres.
“For Charles, the first stint was a very good one. He could match the pace of the midfield, and recover a few positions. After the pit stops, the race started to change. There was a safety car following an incident on track. The timing was not ideal for us, as our competitors took this chance to save time during their pit stops.
“Shortly after changing to the medium tyre compound, Charles spun into the gravel. He flat-spotted and picked up damage to his floor. Unfortunately, not much was possible for him after that.
“Marcus, on the other hand, had a good pace in the second stint and felt more comfortable on the medium tyres. He recovered a few positions and delivered a consistent performance.”
Vasseur feels Sauber have the ability to fight in the midfield, particularly in race conditions, although he acknowledges improving their performance on a Saturday will give them a better opportunity to claim a second top ten finish of the season.
“Overall, the race pace is there and we can see that we can get in the fight within the midfield,” said Vasseur. “We still have some improvements to make for qualifying. That is the next step, and we look forward to the next race.”