2024 Australian Grand Prix – Saturday


2024 Australian Grand Prix - Saturday.jpg

Melbourne, 23 March 2024 – KICK Sauber F1 Team showed good progress in today's qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix, as Valtteri Bottas rode his wave to a spot in Q2 by setting the 13th fastest time of the day. Team-mate, Zhou Guanyu, displayed similar pace, but an unfortunate strike with a high kerb caused damage to his C44 and relegated him to 19th place.

Today's session is a positive step forward for the team, which could have placed two cars in Q2: the real test, however, will come tomorrow, as the team targets points around the challenging Albert Park course.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "Today, we can reflect on a better qualifying performance for the team. We were able to enter Q2 with one car, which more accurately reflects the value of our current technical package compared to our previous outings. We had seen this pace go unrealised in the first couple of qualifying sessions this year, but today Valtteri confirmed our value with a well-executed performance: he did no mistakes and P13 is the result of this. Unfortunately, Zhou saw his qualifying effort scuppered by damage to his front wing: he touched the high kerb at the exit of turn ten which was enough to break the wing's main plane and ruin his final lap. His pace was very similar to Valtteri's, and it wasn't unreasonable to assume he could have also been in Q2. The team's performance has been encouraging: there is still more to find in terms of set-up and we can extract more performance with some more fine-tuning. We were a bit on the back foot at the beginning of the weekend and we can hopefully start better and earlier in the future: but we're in a position in which we can fight for the points without relying on the others' misfortunes. Our focus now switches to tomorrow’s race: we know opportunities to break into the top ten are possible, but we need to be the ones ready to grab them. Tyres will play an important role, we have seen how graining, especially on the front axle, can affect race pace, so we will need to analyse our strategy and work as a team, preparing for all scenarios to maximise our opportunities."

Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):
KICK Sauber F1 Team C44 (Chassis 02/Ferrari)
FP3: 12th / 1:17.752 (20 laps)
Q1: 1:17.543 (9 laps)
Q2: 13th / 1:17.340 (6 laps)
Making it into Q2 for the first time this season is surely a positive – especially in Australia, a circuit where track position is crucial. Starting closer to the top ten tomorrow should allow us to be in the battle to hopefully score a point or two, as we know we can be fighting with the cars around us. Generally, I feel like we've made a small step forward as a team and, given that the field is quite tight, even slight improvements can make a big difference. The reprofiled front wing definitely helped with the car balance and grip and we've seen an overall better performance compared to the previous two races. I'm looking forward to racing in front of a fantastic crowd tomorrow – it's great to feel all the love and support, which gives me quite a boost. Melbourne is always a fantastic race that can be quite action-packed; I'll give it my all to make the fans happy and put a great performance together."

Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):
KICK Sauber F1 Team C44 (Chassis 03/Ferrari)
FP3: 14th / 1:17.876 (19 laps)
Q1: 19th / 1:18.188 (9 laps)

"Today's qualifying has been a difficult one for me: my last lap was going quite well, but then I felt a strong loss of downforce in the last sector before realising that I lost part of my front wing. It's quite unfortunate, as I feel I would have comfortably made it into Q2; now I'll have to make up more than expected during tomorrow's race to be up there fighting for points. While my last qualifying sessions haven't been the luckiest ones, our race pace has felt quite good, and you never know what's going to happen at this track. I am looking forward to racing in front of a great crowd and hopefully climb up the order."

Credit: KICK Sauber F1 Team official website