The Sauber F1 Team was not able to claim points at the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps. Nico Hülkenberg complained about the balance of the car, which affected its performance and left him in 13th. Esteban Gutiérrez started 21st and progressed well, but a drive through penalty left him without a chance reaching the top ten, however. He finished 14th.
Nico Hülkenberg, 13th, Start on medium tyres, after 9 and 24 laps change to hard tyres: “I was able to improve a couple of positions at the start. It was tight but I managed quite well. I had a good first lap, but the pace was missing pretty much from the beginning. The car was difficult to drive. We were lacking a good balance throughout the whole weekend and during the race, and the tyres started to go off pretty quickly. We had to pit earlier than planned. Overall, we were simply missing speed today.”
Esteban Gutiérrez, 14th, Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 04/Ferrari 056): “From where I started I had to make progress and be clever about how much I could push. It was a matter of finding the right balance between pushing and taking care of the tyres, and I found that balance pretty well. I just focused on being as quick as possible, trying to manage the tyres well and getting the most out of the car. We lost a lot of time in the first stint with the traffic I encountered as I was coming from the back of the field. The strategy we planed was not ideal, so we had to change it and that still wasn’t perfect. I totally respect the FIA ‘s decision to penalise me for overtaking Pastor, but I don’t agree with the penalty. To be able to fight and to extract the maximum today is good to know. Now we have to improve in qualifying, because I think with the pace we have we can still fight for the top ten.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: “We expected more this weekend. On a performance level, we were able to close the gap to our direct competitors. However, we weren’t able to translate that into points. We have to have a look at the data as to why Nico’s performance decreased during the race. Esteban did a good job, but the drive through penalty made it impossible for him to score points.”
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: “In the end the race was dry, and we opted for a two stop strategy for both cars. For Nico it was clear from the early part of the race he was struggling with the balance of the car, and the second and third stints were simply not fast enough to score points today. We need to understand why that is when we get the car back and analyse the data. It was clear that for Esteban starting so far back would be difficult, but his pace and tyre management was strong, and it was unfortunate he ended up with a drive through penalty. Otherwise he would have been close to the points towards the end of the race. Now we will regroup and are looking forward to Monza in two weeks time.”