2024 Japanese Grand Prix – Sunday


2024 Japanese Grand Prix - Sunday-1.jpg

Suzuka, 7 April 2024 – Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber left Japan with no points, but renewed confidence in the team's pace and performance. Valtteri Bottas, for large parts of the afternoon one of the fastest cars in the chasing pack, was in strong contention for a top ten finish for most of the race, before eventually ending 14th, while Zhou, starting from the back, saw the potential of a good recovery drive, enabled by his strong pace, come to nought due to a technical issue to the drivetrain.

While the frustration of not turning a good performance into points remain, the team keeps progressing, driven by a solid upgrade programme and hard work both trackside and in Hinwil, and will aim to make a further step towards the points in Shanghai.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "After three races in which we were affected by issues at the pit stops, we can see some positive developments there, having four stops with no issues. Of course, right now we are not looking at maximising speed, but rather the consistency and reliability of our stops, which is what happened today. We had to retire Zhou's car due to a problem with the drivetrain, which the team is now investigating; it's unfortunate as he had a strong start and good first laps, and even though he wasn't directly in the fight for points at that stage, with his strong pace he would have been helpful for the team in terms of maximising the outcomes of our strategy. Valtteri had a really solid race, with two good starts and a serious shot at scoring: he was ahead of Tsunoda before the second stop, and Yuki went on to score points. Of course, we know our current limitations and we knew we would get back on track behind them, but we can take heart by the fact that our race pace was matching him, if not better, even if eventually Valtteri ended up stuck behind Magnussen for the remainder for the race, and wasn't in a position to attack him on the straights. As a team, we need to analyse all the data from this weekend: we keep finding better performance with each upgrade that comes from Hinwil, and we know we are going in the right direction. Development is going well and the upgrades are working, our pit stops are improving: we know that to score points this year we'll need to put everything together, and that no details can be missed in terms of execution, performance, and reliability, so we keep working hard. We now focus on two days of testing with Pirelli ahead of coming back stronger in Shanghai. We must retain our confidence: we are getting closer every race, and we see that our pace can be right there with our direct competitors."

Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):

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

Race result: 14th

Fastest lap: 1:36.608 (Lap 25)

Strategy & Pit Stops: Start (New Soft) – Lap 6 (New Hard) – Lap 22 (New Hard)

"Our pace overall looked quite strong today, this is the positive we can definitely take out of this race: it should have allowed us to finish higher than we did today – which confirms the step forward we have made in terms of performance thanks to the upgrades we have been bringing recently and the work done to refine our understanding of our package. Unfortunately, our potential for points was scuppered when we suffered the traffic at our second stop: we stopped with a group of other cars, it was not the easiest stop and, once I made it back out on track, I ended up being stuck behind Kevin [Magnussen] for most of the final laps. I am definitely disappointed, as we could have easily achieved more today, and scored our first points of the season. Still, our race pace looked promising, and there is progress made both on and off the track. We can hope for a stronger performance in Shanghai: our priority remains getting more consistent execution across the whole board, and fight for points in what is an extremely tight pack. I am excited to be going back to China after a few years, and it'll of course be a big one for us as a team and for Zhou – hopefully, we'll be able to be back in the fight and put up a decent show and some points."

Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):

Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber C44 (Chassis 01/Ferrari)

Race result: DNF

Fastest lap: 1:37.160 (Lap 9)

Strategy & Pit Stops: Start (New Medium) – Lap 1 (New Soft) – Lap 7 (New Hard)

"It has been a difficult weekend for me: unfortunately, we encountered some smaller issues over the weekend, from the reduced run time in FP3, that ultimately impacted my qualifying, to a DNF in a race where I had the pace to make up some positions. I had a good start and first laps of the race, before we noticed that we might have some technical problems and being informed to retire the car. While this is definitely not the start of the year that I hoped for, we keep working hard as we know things will improve: our overall pace looked good, and my focus now is on the preparation for my first home Grand Prix. With the team trackside and back at the factory, we'll investigate our issues and work on them to be in a better position, so I'll be fighting for points at home in China – in Saturday's Sprint Race as well as the Race on Sunday."

Credit: Stake F1 Team official website