It was a difficult Friday for Kick Sauber, as drivers Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas could finish no higher than 18th in Sprint Qualifying. Hear what they had to say below.

By the Asian Motorsport Team

Zhou: “Difficult to get a good time on the board” in SQ1

  • Free Practice 1: Best lap: 1:06.919, pos. 14th, 28 laps
  • Sprint Qualifying: Best lap: 1:07.197, pos. 20th, 6 laps

A challenging Sprint Qualifying session for Zhou saw him run wide into the gravel on his first lap, with heavy traffic compromising his second attempt. Despite this, he remains optimistic about Saturday’s qualifying session for the Grand Prix, believing that the team has the potential to perform better.

“While we used the morning’s practice session to collect some information and data, today’s sprint qualifying was quite messy for me,” he said. “I only had two laps. I ended up running wide into the gravel on the first one and encountered heavy traffic on the second.

“This made it difficult to get a good time on the board as the tyres were gone after the first attempt. However, looking ahead to tomorrow, I reckon that we should have more pace and shall be stronger than we were today – our focus is now on qualifying proper.”

Bottas: “I was expecting our lap times to be better”

  • Free Practice 1: Best lap: 1:06.925, pos. 15th, 29 laps
  • Sprint Qualifying: Best lap: 1:06.725, pos. 18th, 6 laps

Bottas also had a difficult Friday, with Sauber struggling to achieve good single-lap pace. His second clean lap in Sprint Qualifying was invalidated due to track limits, but it was only a marginal improvement over his first attempt. The Finn remains focused on learning from today’s session and is optimistic about potential setup changes that could improve their performance.

“The feeling with the car had been quite decent so far, and I was expecting our lap times to be better; I had two clean laps, and although the second one was deleted because of track limits, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference, as it was only two hundredths of a second faster,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we are still quite lacking when it comes to single-lap pace. Tomorrow’s Sprint will be a tough job starting from the back of the grid, especially in a short race with no pit stops, but we will still have a chance to go for a set-up change afterwards. We’ll put all our focus on maximising these learnings, looking to improve our performance in tomorrow’s main Qualifying and on Sunday.”

Alunni Bravi: Sprint Qualifying a “disappointing” session

Team Representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi reflected on a “disappointing” Sprint Qualifying session that brought the team “back to the bottom of the grid”. He added, “We need to understand why we were not able to continue the positive trajectory that started last weekend in Barcelona.

“On a track like Spielberg, with short lap times, there is no allowance for any mistake, and we’ve seen that especially the last sector is crucial. Today, we missed something, both in terms of the last sector performance and of clean laps, and that jeopardised our session.”

Despite these setbacks, the team remains committed to learning from these experiences and is focused on improving their performance in the upcoming sessions. With a strategic approach and potential setup changes, they aim to bounce back and demonstrate their true potential in the main qualifying and the race.

Header image credit: Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

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