2024 Chinese Grand Prix – Friday



Shanghai, 19 April 2024 – Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber kept on top of changing conditions to record a double-SQ3 in the first Sprint Qualifying session of the year. Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu had looked at ease around the Shanghai International Circuit from the start of the weekend's lone practice session, and cleared Q1 under ominous clouds in the afternoon shootout. A pair of good opening attempts in Q2 proved sufficient to claim a spot in the top ten, as the arrival of rain made it impossible for any driver to improve their laps. Valtteri and Zhou will line up in ninth and tenth place on the grid respectively, good starting positions to try and score points in tomorrow's Sprint.

With qualifying for Sunday's race also on the menu tomorrow, the team will keep pushing to harness the incredible support of the home crowd and achieve a good result.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "Today has been a positive day for us – not just for having both cars in SQ3, but also for the performance shown on the medium compound in dry conditions in SQ1. The team did a really good job and both drivers were able to execute clean laps without mistakes. I believe this boosts the team's confidence: we started bringing upgrades a few races ago and it seems we're going in the right direction. We know that every weekend presents its own challenges – especially here with a Sprint format and mixed conditions, which can be quite demanding for all teams – but we have seen that, with a solid package, we can consolidate the performance shown in today's Sprint Qualifying session. Starting in the top ten can open an opportunity for us to score points, and we know the importance of adding more points to our scorecard. A big tribute goes back to our team, both in Hinwil and trackside – we keep our heads down and focus on the remainder of the weekend. Our job is not finished here, but to gain confirmation of our ability to fight for points is reassuring. We're excited to go racing and give back to the Chinese fans that have shown us tremendous support and love already throughout the weekend."

Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):

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

FP1: 10th / 1:37.530 (24 laps)

SQ1: 1:37.112 (7 laps)

SQ2: 1:36.056 (4 laps)

SQ3: 9th / 2:01.044 (5 laps)

"Today has been a great day for the team: both cars in the top ten is how we want to start a race weekend. We experienced mixed conditions – something that's never easy, but it's reassuring to know that we would have been up there regardless of the weather. I'm truly happy for Zhou and the Chinese fans – getting into SQ3 at your home race is special. While it's still quite challenging to assess everyone's race pace after FP1, especially with evolving track conditions, we'll give it our all tomorrow. The team has done a great job and with the extra support from the Chinese fans, we aim to be fighting for points in the sprint and deliver a qualifying performance to this level tomorrow."

Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):

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

FP1: 11th / 1:37.626 (24 laps)

SQ1: 1:37.544 (7 laps)

SQ2: 1:36.307 (4 laps)

SQ3: 10th / 2:03.537 (5 laps)

"It feels great to be in SQ3. The laps kept coming together, in SQ1 through SQ2: there was a lot of potential in the car but in the end, in the rain in SQ3, we only had one lap to get the best possible outcome. I was just trying to get a lap onboard, even though everyone was struggling so much with the grip. I'm happy with the day, with two cars in SQ3, and the fans have been sensational: I can't wait for the rest of the weekend. Points tomorrow will only be for the top eight, but we're taking this step by step: we put two cars in the top ten today, and we will give everything tomorrow. Everything can still happen; it'll be a sprint from the lights to the finish. The guys we are fighting for the points will be strong, but we stand with a chance and we're ready to go for it."

Credit: Stake F1 Team official website