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Sauber: Pit stop nightmare persists despite “mitigation measures”

Sauber was again exposed for operational inefficiency in Australia, costing the Swiss outfit and its drivers valuable points. With the Swiss outfit and its drivers desperate for a top-10 result, last weekend in Melbourne was a tough pill to swallow.

F1 is often described as the pinnacle of motorsport, where the best engineers and driving talents are put to the test. However, even in Formula 1, teams can fall victim to certain pitfalls and common narratives.

Red Bull, for example, made the mistake of putting too much stock into Nyck de Vries’ P9 finish at the 2022 Italian GP. Less than a year later, the Dutchman lost his seat mid-season.

Returning to Sauber, this team has experienced a significant decline in just two years. This impacts not only their performances but also how their drivers are perceived.

Sauber errors prove costly for Bottas

Valtteri Bottas is a perfect example of this. At the start of 2022, the Finn received frequent praise. In a car capable of regular Q3 appearances, the 10-time race winner delivered consistent results. Bottas was even in contention for a podium at Imola.

However, a lack of development at Hinwil meant these consistent top-10 results quickly dissipated. Simultaneously, the Finn’s value in the driver market dropped. Last year’s C43 car, which was largely anonymous, did not help.

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As mentioned initially, F1 often separates itself by having the best minds and engineering talent. However, this does not mean they are immune to more surface-level factors when making key decisions.

This might be detrimental to Bottas and Zhou. Without a competitive package, they will struggle to make a convincing case in a highly volatile F1 driver market. However, the first three races of 2024 were not purely determined by the C44’s speed. Instead, pit stop errors have been Hinwil’s greatest limitation.

Valtteri Bottas will be especially frustrated by Australia’s pit stop woes. The 34-year-old was firmly in contention for points until another awful pit stop ruined his chances.

Sauber pit stop issues still unresolved

In Sauber’s Australia review, Sauber team representative Alunni Bravi was apologetic about yet another operational error:

“We need to apologise to our drivers, especially to Valtteri, who in the first part of the race, showed he could match the top ten drivers. And was clearly fighting for a points finish, thanks to a good start and strong pace. 

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“As we said before the race, we had implemented mitigation measures for our pit stop issue. 

“Something that has improved the situation but, as we have seen, not completely solved the problem.”

Bravi also explained that Bottas suffered a “slightly different” problem from those in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

It goes without saying that this is a huge concern. Even if the issue is resolved, nothing can recover the points lost in Australia.

The double points finish secured by Haas (alongside Tsunoda’s P7 in the RB) only worsened this failure. Sauber must improve its speed and operational procedures to compete for points.


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