Sauber work to recover: New wing update in Spain

Adam Cooper

Thus far, the 2024 season has not been a great one for Sauber. The team currently lies 10th in the World Championship as the only entrant yet to have scored a point. In addition, the C44 has been the slowest car in qualifying in the last four races in Miami, Imola, Monaco and Montreal.

That’s not to say that Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu have always been stranded in 19th and 20th, but every other team has had at least one of its cars ahead on the grid on all of those weekends. Given that the team is gearing up for Audi works status in 2026, and is trying to convince drivers of the calibre of Carlos Sainz to come in board, it’s not an ideal situation.

Having said that it’s worth recalling that Bottas and Zhou were ninth and 10th in sprint qualifying in Shanghai in April, and that the Finn made Q3 for the main event that weekend as well. However, in a midfield where every tenth makes a difference it’s clear that Sauber has lost some momentum as others have developed more effectively.

Indeed, at the last race in Canada despite a high attrition rate ahead and the rain creating an opportunity Bottas and Zhou could manage only 13th and 15th places.

Team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi, the man overseeing operations at the track, admits that it was a difficult afternoon for Sauber in Montreal.

“First of all, we decided to change the rear wing ahead of the race in order to go for a wet setup to try to maximise an opportunity in case of a full wet race,” the Italian tells Formu1a.Uno.

“I think that this choice was correct, looking at the race. But we don’t have at this moment enough performance to fight for the points.

“We struggled with the warm-up of the tyres, because we have seen at the start and out of the pit stop, it took our drivers two or three laps to get the tyres in the right temperature window, and there we lost the opportunity to stay close to our competitors, and try to overtake them.

“But I think that the race was positive. We made the right calls at the right moment.”

Alunni Bravi

Alunni Bravi admits that the team has a lot of catching up to do in the 2024 development race:

“We need to work on the performance of the car because, in both dry and wet conditions, we don’t have enough pace to fight for the points.

“This is the situation now. We know that it’s difficult, but the only thing to do is to work and try to develop even further the car, starting from the next race. We have 15 races left, and I cannot imagine that we will stay in this position for so long.

“We are not happy about this situation. I think we need to distinguish between performance and race result. The race results are disappointing. But we have seen that the performance was according to the targets we set out at the beginning of the season.

“But we were not able to translate the performance into race results at the beginning of the season for reliability issues, also linked to the pit stops. And now, because compared to the others over a single lap, a qualifying lap, our main competitors did a bigger step.

“We need to recover this gap and to improve, especially our qualifying pace. And to do this, we just need to work hard. Nothing is compromised. But, of course, we need a quick reaction.”

Bottas suggested in Montreal that recent updates from Sauber, while working and finding some performance, are simply not doing enough.

“We brought the developments at each race, not just track specific,” says Alunni Bravi.

“In Montreal, we had the new rear wing for medium/low downforce level with a new concept, a new family of rear wings, the mono pylon.

“We had also some other parts on the car, a new lower beam wing, and of course, we will have also in Barcelona a track-specific rear wing.

“And our development plan is continued during all the season. It is clear that we need to push even more on development, because there is a gap that we need to recover, not just in terms of points, also in terms of performance.

“What we have done is not enough to stay ahead of our main competitors. This is clear, and everybody is aware that we need to do more.”