2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Saturday

Saudi Arabia

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - Saturday.jpg

Jeddah, 9 March 2024 – Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber endured a difficult race in the Jeddah night, as the Corniche Circuit hosted the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Coming on the back of a challenging qualifying, the team showed spirit and resilience, with Zhou Guanyu running most of the evening race in tenth and eleventh position – from P20 on the grid. Eventually, a pit-stop issue prevented him from finishing just outside the points, but the pace shown by the Chinese driver was solid with both medium and soft compounds. Valtteri Bottas, starting in P16 on soft, took advantage of an early Safety Car to pit for hard tyres, but the compound's potential failed to materialise and, with no other major incidents to shake up the order, finished in 17th place, one position ahead of his team-mate.

Following three weeks of testing and racing, the team now returns home to prepare for the next rounds of the championship, starting in Australia on March 24th.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "Today marked a rather disappointing outcome for our race, despite the reasonable pace shown by both drivers. Valtteri had a good start, but yellow lights signalling a potential stalling car forced him to brake, resulting in a loss of a few positions. Taking advantage of an early Safety Car, and considering his soft compound tyre start, we opted for an early pit stop. Unfortunately, we struggled to find the optimal operating window for the hard compound tyres to perform at their best. Zhou's race was characterised by a consistent and good performance. Choosing to keep him out during the Safety Car phase allowed him to fight with Kevin [Magnussen] and Nico [Hülkenberg] for points. Regrettably, we faced an issue during the pit stop: it was similar to last week's in Bahrain, not the fault of any of our mechanics but something that requires thorough investigation. This setback placed Zhou at the back of the field, yet he persisted, showcasing good pace on the soft compound tyres. In a highly competitive midfield, we can't afford any minor issue and must extract 100% of our performance. We're looking with confidence towards the next race in Melbourne to be fighting for points once again."

Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):
Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber C44 (Chassis 02/Ferrari)
Race result: 17th
Fastest lap: 1:32.706 (Lap 49)
Strategy & Pit Stops: Start (New Soft) – Lap 7 (New Hard) – Lap 35 (New Soft)

"It has undoubtedly been a tough race, and a tough weekend overall, where we didn't have the pace we were aiming to unlock from our car. We went for an aggressive strategy with Soft-Hard, but we figured pretty quickly we were struggling quite a lot on the hard compound, never properly getting it to work. We switched for Softs again towards the end, hoping it would make a difference – it did – but unfortunately we had lost too much time compared to our competitors, and couldn't make much of an improvement. With a week break before Australia, we'll have the time to regroup as a team and analyse what hasn't worked out so far for us. This is just the second race out of twenty-four, but it'll be important to address our issues and work hard in order to promptly solve them. As a positive, we have some updates in the pipeline, which hopefully will allow us to make a step forward and get back into the fight for points."

Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):
Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber C44 (Chassis 03/Ferrari)
Race result: 18th
Fastest lap: 1:32.208 (Lap 49)
Strategy & Pit Stops: Start (New Medium) – Lap 41 (New Soft)

"This was definitely not my weekend. The race was difficult in the beginning, but we managed to go quite long on the medium compound tyres before pitting for new softs. We would have comfortably finished in P11, but unfortunately, the pit-stop compromised my race. We encountered another issue with a cross-threaded nut, something that we, as a team, are investigating. We need to understand how this happened and improve to make sure it doesn't occur again. The positive takeaway from this weekend is that my pace was looking quite good, and we're definitely up there fighting in the midfield, close to the points."

Credit: Alfa Romeo F1 Team official website