Almost there! That must surely be the exclamation at the Sauber F1 team factory in Hinwil, after the Swiss team teetered on the edge of their first points finish of the season at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Both drivers put in a strong performance with Felipe Nasr finishing crossing the line in 16th place, but moved up to 15th after the addition of a late penalty. The Brazilian driver opted for an aggressive strategy at the start, which he had hoped would leap frog him up the order, but which was ultimately undone by the safety car period that bunched the field again.
Nasr opted for a 1 stop strategy which saw him change from the medium compound to the super soft tyre after an impressive 49 laps. He is looking forward to his home race and the possibility of points at the ever tricky Interlagos:
“…I had a damaged front wing as well as a turning vane, which compromised the lap times. Now it is time to think about the next race in Brazil. It is always a great feeling getting back home and racing in Interlagos.”
But ultimately the day belonged to Marcus Ericsson, the Swedish driver putting in what he called his best drive in F1, and it would be hard to disagree.
While he might not have scored points, his 11th place was perhaps, on this occasion, worth far more in the long run. The heart of many a fan skipped a beat when Ericsson suffered, what looked to be a race ending collision at the start when he became the unfortunate collateral damage in an incident involving Manor.
But a quick nose change in the pits and change of tyre saw the Swedish driver head back out and work his way back up the field by sheer determination and skill. Despite a broken floor, Ericsson carried his car to 11th place and the very edge of the points for the first time this season.
The drive will put many of the naysayers on the proverbial back foot as Ericsson has again proven that he can extract the maximum out of the car on his 1 stop race, running a set of tyres from the 2nd lap and pushing forward despite setbacks:
“We kept on going, and I managed to get back into the rhythm, so the pace was still good. Today we were close to the points, but just not close enough. We as a team take a lot of positives from this weekend. It shows again that we are taking steps in the right direction. We will fight back in Brazil.”
Yes, while Sauber can take heart from the performance, they do need to score at least a point in one of the last two races of the season. The rain in Brazil often throws up an interesting race and perhaps the chips will finally fall correctly for Sauber.
* Rhea Morar
(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)