AFTER securing their second double points scoring result of the 2015 season, Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr spoke of their excitement ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Swede Ericsson bounced back from a disappointing race in Malaysia, where he spun out early in the race while attempting to overtake the Force India of Nico Hülkenberg, by finishing 10th in the Chinese Grand Prix.
The 24 year-old was pleased to be back in the points despite enduring a mixed race, and believes that the Sakir circuit in Bahrain should suit the Sauber more.
“Our target was to get both cars into the points and in the end we managed to achieve that objective,” said Ericsson.
“My race was quite tough with a lot of fights through it. I hoped our race pace would have been a bit stronger but nevertheless, I thought I had a good race.”
“I am looking forward to the first night race of the season. It is always spectacular and good fun. Bahrain is a track I know very well from previous racing series [GP2 between 2010 and 2013], and I have been there quite often,” Ericsson added.
“With the strong package and after the good result in China, I feel confident we will be competitive there. I am looking forward to another good race weekend.”
Felipe Nasr has been one of the standout rookies at the beginning of 2015 and the Brazilian produced another strong drive in China to finish 8th. The 22 year-old will also look to use his past experience of the Bahrain circuit in his favour at the weekend.
“It is a track which I am familiar with, as I have raced there often. It is not my first night race as I did one in Abu Dhabi during my GP2 Series season. I am looking forward to that, and I hope we can keep the momentum from China,” Nasr said.
Nasr echoed Ericsson’s positivity about the team’s chances as they head to the desert circuit; Nasr hopes that the long straights can once again play to the car’s advantage, but is realistic about the challenges the team faces.
“It can be positive for us that the circuit has a few straights due to our high top speed. In Bahrain there are three facts which are important for a good lap time: Braking stability, traction, as well as a good balance for the car in the high-speed corners in sector two,” explained Nasr.
“I also expect we need to work on good tyre management, because that can be very tricky in those warm conditions. Although it is a race that starts in the evening, the surface stays quite warm.”
Ericsson stressed the initial challenges of the desert circuit and in particular, the effect of the sand affecting driving conditions.
“The track has some long straights, slow-speed corners with hard braking zones, as well as high-speed corners with fast changes of direction. Overall the circuit is technical and driving wise not an easy one,” Ericsson said.
“Another aspect which comes into play is the sand blowing onto the track. We need to keep an eye on that, as the circuit is usually quite dusty for the first sessions and then picks up more grip during the weekend.”
Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara added that while the gap between races may not deliver significant changes in performance, Bahrain offers the opportunity to exploit the strengths of the Sauber.
“The circuit is fairly different in layout and the temperatures will be warmer compared to Shanghai,” said Dall’Ara.
“Aerodynamic efficiency, strong braking and power output will play a major role, and the Sauber F1 Team is aiming to further progress with upgrades on the Sauber C34-Ferrari, especially on the aerodynamic side.”