They chose to evaluate the prime tyre in the first session before trying out the soft compound in the afternoon. The German driver believes work still needs to be done on the option tyre, both on low and high fuel runs, but he is pleased with the balance of the car on the medium Pirelli rubber.
“Today was quite a good Friday,” he admitted. “No big dramas, stable weather, and good running. We were able to work through the whole programme, so that was good. We collected some good tyre data, which is always most important on a Friday.”
He added: “Regarding the performance on the medium tyres, I’m quite happy with the car. On the soft tyre compound I think, we still need to work a bit and find better solutions for the set up. On both the low and high fuel runs it wasn’t ideal. Tomorrow I think we will be able to push for the top ten.”
Team-mate Esteban Gutierrez didn’t feel the same way after struggling in both sessions. The Mexican driver didn’t feel confident on either tyre and couldn’t find a balance on both high and low fuel loads.
He finished the morning in 16th before slipping to 17th in the second 90 minute session. “It was a very complicated day,” he said. “We were trying to find out exactly where we stood on the track and it’s been quite challenging, because the pace is just not there, neither on the high or the low fuel. I am not happy with the way the car is handling and the way it feels. I’m not very confident at the moment.
“Obviously, I was trying to do my best to put everything together, but we are missing quite a lot. The most surprising thing was the lack of pace in the long runs. The degradation on the soft tyre was quite high. Also on the medium tyre I wasn’t able to find the pace. We have to look into that now and see how we can improve the car as well as myself.”
With contrasting fortunes for both drivers on Friday, Sauber have plenty of work to do if they want to continue their strong run of points scoring finishes.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic