2024 Japanese Grand Prix - Saturday


2024 Japanese Grand Prix - Saturday-1.jpg

Suzuka, 6 April 2024 – Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber fought for a place in Q3 in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix. In a competitive session in Suzuka, Valtteri Bottas missed out on a place in the top ten by a very small margin, ultimately claiming the 13th spot on the grid for tomorrow's race. On the other side of the garage, Zhou Guanyu's preparations for qualifying were hampered by a technical issue in FP3: he did recover well to be in the battle for a place in Q2, but ultimately couldn't progress and will start tomorrow's showpiece event in 20th place.

With an upgraded package showing good progress, the team continue to work hard to fight for the points – and will be ready to put up a strong performance in the race.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "Today leaves us with mixed feelings. On Valtteri's side, we have shown an improvement compared to previous races as he had the chance to make it into Q3 thanks to a good quali lap. He only missed out by a small margin, but his lap times in Q1 and Q2 were competitive with Yuki [Tsunoda] who made it into the final round. Unfortunately, Zhou's qualifying session did not play out as expected as he missed the final part of FP3 due to a technical problem we are investigating. He couldn't use the soft compound tyres in the quali sim, and with FP3 being a very important session – especially since the conditions during FP2 did not allow for lots of running – he lacked some crucial time to prepare for qualifying. Zhou showed a good improvement between the first and second stint, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to make the cut, with a lap time that doesn't really reflect the full potential. Zhou's practice sessions looked strong, and he has the possibility to recover some positions tomorrow. Overall, our upgrades – those we introduced in Melbourne and those that came here [in Suzuka] – have improved the performance of our car and we're optimistic that we can fight for points during the race."

Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):

Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber C44 (Chassis 02/Ferrari)

FP3: 12th / 1:30.546 (26 laps)

Q1: 1:29.602 (6 laps)

Q2: 13th / 1:29.593 (6 laps)

"I was really happy with how our car felt today, both in the morning session and during qualifying. It's good to be back in Q2 and to be knocking on the door for Q3 as well. Of course, it would have been even nicer to make it into the top ten, but this result is proof that we are heading in the right direction with the upgrades we brought in the last couple of events – and for this we must pay tribute to the team back home in Hinwil for their continued support. We have made some small steps forward throughout the weekend and, looking ahead to tomorrow, I am confident that if we get everything right, we will be able to put up a decent battle with the cars around us and bring home some points."

Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):

Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber C44 (Chassis 03/Ferrari)

FP3: 15th / 1:31.067 (16 laps)

Q1: 20th / 1:30.143 (6 laps)

"Today has been a tough day for me. Unfortunately, due to a technical issue, I missed the end of FP3 and had to go from my long-run practice straight to qualifying. Given the lack of preparation, it was quite difficult for me to predict the car's behaviour, and while I tried to maximise everything I could, I simply didn't have enough grip on the rear in the last sector, where I lost out. I believe more time to prepare for my quali run would have put me in a more comfortable position. It's a very tight grid, and while fighting for the points might depend on how much overtaking will be possible, I'm confident that I should be able to make up places. Tomorrow is a new day, and as a team we'll continue to give it our all."

Credit: Stake F1 Team official website