The Sauber F1 Team progressed in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix following some changes to the car after analysing the performances in the first two races.
Nico Hülkenberg made it into Q3, but then decided to save tyres for the race tomorrow. He didn’t set a lap time and finished P10, giving him free choice of the tyre compound for the start of the race. Teammate Esteban Gutiérrez made a mistake on his quick lap in Q1 and ended up 18th.
Nico Hülkenberg, Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 01/Ferrari 056): “I think it was a good and successful qualifying. If someone had told us before qualifying that we are going to finish P10, I would have not believed it. As we did not try to set a lap time in Q3, maybe there would have been more on the table. It was a good effort, a good lap in Q2. The updates the team has brought to the track worked pretty well and everything went smoothly for us in qualifying. I was reasonably happy with the balance of the car, so I look forward to tomorrow. We’ve done everything right with our approach in Q3 not to run and instead save our tyres, which now gives us the free choice of tyres to start with, which can be an advantage. Now we have got to make the right choice.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari 056):
“Well, it’s quite a disappointing qualifying result. It was very challenging to put a first quick lap together with only one chance. It is very critical and I was trying to push a little too hard and ended up making a small mistake, which cost us a lot. I will improve on that side and make sure everything I am doing in the car is very precise. On top of that, it is very challenging with these tyres. I feel very sorry for the team, as we had the potential to easily make it into Q2 and then to fight to get into Q3. The speed which shows the potential of the car is motivating, but we still need to put everything together, and that includes from my side.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal:
“We are very happy about this result. During all practice sessions the team worked in a very focused way. After the last race our engineers put into place measures on the car and their effects have been seen here. This is a very important step for the team and also significant in order to exploit the potential of the car. Nico put in an outstanding lap in Q2 and showed our progress on the track. For Esteban, we hope he will get some opportunities in the race and will be able to use them.”
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering:
“It’s nice to finally have a dry qualifying session to see where we stand compared to our competitors. We’ve been working very hard to improve the car since the start of the season. Nico put in an excellent lap in Q2. With regard to the race tomorrow, we elected to keep new tyres, and hopefully that will work out for us. Unfortunately, Esteban didn’t make it through to Q2. It was very tight, and a small mistake ended up being very costly. But he will learn from that, and there are plenty opportunities for him tomorrow.”