The Sauber F1 Team experienced a difficult qualifying for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Despite improving the performance of the C32 in free practice three this morning, the team was not able to make it into Q3. Nico Hülkenberg, who will start in 14th, was only some hundredths away from 12th.
After receiving a five place grid penalty in China, Esteban Gutiérrez qualified 18th, but will have to start the race from 22nd.
Nico Hülkenberg, Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 01/Ferrari 056), 14th:
“We always knew it was going to be difficult to get into Q3 today. However, I expected we would be starting closer to the top ten. The car felt quite good in the practice session this morning, but then the wind changed and it seemed very sensitive to that. I think, it will be a long race tomorrow, especially because we know we are lacking pace at this circuit, but we will fight to achieve the best result possible.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari 056), 18th: “It’s not a good feeling starting last, but we always knew that this weekend was going to be difficult. Our speed this weekend has not been great. It was important to drive a clean qualifying today, but I did my best and this is what I got. It was a bit of a disadvantage to do the race preparation in free practice three, because I didn’t get enough practice on the new tyres on low fuel. However, it was important because the data will help us to prepare the strategy for the race tomorrow.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: “We were able to improve the performance during the three free practice sessions, but it was not enough in the end. It’s a difficult weekend for our team. In Esteban’s case it was clear he would have to start from a long way behind due to his grid penalty. Nico was able to improve consistently, but he was unlucky because he ended up less than a tenth of a second behind 12th. It’s a challenging situation for the race, but we accept it and we will make the best of it tomorrow.”
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: “Due to Esteban’s penalty we elected to concentrate on high fuel running in FP3 and approach qualifying in a different way today. We have plenty of new sets of fresh tyres left for him tomorrow, and we are looking at the best way of using them. On a more standard programme, Nico was happy with the car in FP3, but it was more difficult to drive in qualifying, and we need to understand that. To be within the same tenth as the two cars in front of you is always disappointing at the end of qualifying. We look forward to maximising the strategy with the goal of scoring points.”