Sauber’s hopes of ending their points draught at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix has taken a major blow, after the Hinwil-based duo of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez were both frustratingly eliminated from proceedings after the first segment of qualifying. With the team still struggling for overall pace against their midfield rivals, Gutierrez and Sutil will line-up 17th and 18th respectively.
Since the start of the season Sauber have been struggling greatly with a lack of overall pace on their Ferrari powered C33 car, which has so far seen at least one of their drivers eliminated from proceedings after every opening segment in qualifying this season. However, the major issue with their qualifying performance at Monaco was largely down to poor luck, with yellow flags impeding their progress throughout the opening segment of the session after Daniil Kvyat’s error on the exit of the tunnel and Marcus Ericsson’s mistake at turn five which saw him collect Felipe Massa’s Williams.
After both incidents yellow flags were waved, however their impact on the session was more profound during the immediate aftermath of the tussle between Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Massa. With the altercation in question taking place towards the end of the segment and at one of the tightest parts of the track, any drivers’ hopes of improving through the second sector were immediately dashed. This included the Sauber duo of both Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez, who unfortunately found themselves within the perilous drop zone along with the usual suspects of Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton, Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson.
Naturally the whole team was disheartened with such a poor qualifying result, which will present the team with an almighty uphill challenge during the 78-lap race with overtaking notoriously difficult around the Principality. With Sauber so far enduring their worst start to a Formula 1 season since 2010, their last under BMW power, their drivers are understandably frustrated with a lack of success. So far this season they remain the only team yet to score points, along with Caterham and Marussia who are still striving to secure their maiden points finish in the sport. Despite their struggles so far, Adrian Sutil in particular is remaining optimistic ahead of the race.
“It was a disappointing qualifying,” admitted Adrian Sutil, who has been eliminated after Q1 on three occasions so far this season. “The first run was quite good. We just had bad luck with the two yellow flags at the end of the first qualifying session. It is a shame, but that can happen in Monaco. We were not able to show what could have been possible. We now have to look forward. The race is long and everything can happen. I am looking forward and I hope to get the most out of the car.”
With the rate of attrition during this weekend’s race predicted to be higher than usual due to the difficulties in controlling the cars this season, Sauber’s only hope of scoring points is for both of their drivers to keep a close nose and stay out of trouble and rise slowly through the order. Realistically the team will be aware that their chances of points will be scarce, with the melee into turn one the first hurdle for the duo to clear before then focusing on potential points. This time last season Sauber only had five points, however that is undoubtedly a tally they would happily cling to with both hands after tomorrow’s 78-lap Monaco Grand Prix should the opportunity present itself.
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