2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Friday

Saudi Arabia

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - Friday.jpg

Jeddah, 8 March 2024 – Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber faced several adversities on Qualifying Friday at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. A high-speed incident for Zhou Guanyu meant the crew had to rebuild one of the cars completely, a task they performed admirably to allow Zhou to head on track during qualifying. Despite the heroic effort of the mechanics, there was no time for Zhou to set a lap, and he’ll be 20th on the grid. Valtteri Bottas looked competitive in the sister C44, only for his final push lap to be heavily compromised by traffic in the final sector: he eventually claimed the 16th spot on the grid, despite his pace promising more.

Tomorrow's race will be a tough challenge for the team, having to recover from lowly positions on the grid. A tough challenge, but one from which we won't shy.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "First of all, we must be grateful for the team getting Zhou's car back together and out on track for the qualifying session. While we missed the chance to set a time for a mere five seconds, at least we could do an installation lap to ensure the car is in running conditions again. Following the accident, Zhou was checked by the Medical Center due to high G-forces sustained in the impact and, thankfully, he was fine. Tomorrow will be another race where we'll have to fight to recover our positions. Valtteri, unfortunately, missed Q2 for a tiny margin, having lost roughly five tenths in the last few corners due to traffic: it’s quite disappointing, as he clearly had the potential for a higher position up the grid. We have shown in Bahrain that we can fight close to the points, and that's what we have our eyes on for tomorrow – while it's not an easy target, I am confident in the ability of the team and our drivers to make up some positions during the race."

Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):
Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber C44 (Chassis 02/Ferrari)
FP3: 18th / 1:30.083 (21 laps)
Q1: 16th / 1:29.179 (9 laps)

"It is very disappointing to finish just a handful of hundredths away from Q2. It had actually been a decent session until the last push lap, when I got caught up in traffic in the last four corners, and ended up with not one, but two cars blocking the way in front of me. Based on the delta, I should have made it through, which makes it even more frustrating. We are still lacking something on single-lap performance, and today's happenings didn’t work out in our favour. Nevertheless, tomorrow is a new day, with new opportunities to fight our way through the field. Based on the last event, our race pace should grant us better chances to improve our grid positions. Of course, the starting slots we are in are not ideal, so it’ll be important to keep away from trouble at the start and in Turn One, and try everything we can to get some points."

Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):
Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber C44 (Chassis 03/Ferrari)
FP3: 19th / 1:30.739 (12 laps)
Q1: 20th / No Time Set

"First and foremost, the team did a fantastic job putting the car back together in such a short time, which is definitely not an easy task. The accident in Turn Six was quite some impact: it's a flat-out corner, and I lost the rear – which cost us the qualifying and a chance to show what we can do due to the time we needed to repair the car. Until then, the weekend, in general, had felt good, and I can feel the team has made a step forward. Unfortunately, we’ll start from the back at a track with not much tyre degradation, definitely not a position we wanted to be in. Nevertheless, I am happy that the team managed to get me out there to get a feel for the car ahead of the race. Tomorrow will be difficult, but our race pace has been looking decent so far, and we'll stay positive."

Credit: Stake F1 Team official website