2024 Chinese Grand Prix - Saturday

Sprint Race

2024 Chinese Grand Prix - Saturday 2.jpg

Shanghai, 20 April 2024 – Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber was in strong form throughout the first ever new-format Sprint Saturday, as the team completed the day with a solid showing in the Sprint race and a promising performance in qualifying for tomorrow's Grand Prix.

In the morning event, local hero, Zhou Guanyu, narrowly missed out on the points, showing good pace to clinch ninth place; team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, suffered damage in the opening lap but held on to 12th place in the 19-lap Sprint.

Qualifying for the race was fully in the dry, conditions in which the team looked convincing in practice yesterday: Valtteri was in fine form, qualifying to Q3 and setting the tenth fastest time for tomorrow's grid. Zhou went agonisingly close to a spot in Q2, but a lock-up in sector three cost him and he was 16th.

On a track where overtaking is possible, the team will aim to build on today's performance and will target the season's first points.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "Today has been a full day on track, with the Sprint session in the morning and qualifying in the afternoon, and the overall balance is positive. We started the day with a good result for Zhou, finishing P9 in the sprint – only seconds outside of the points – which confirmed that our race pace in Shanghai is looking good and that we have the chance to fight with our direct competitors for points. We knew it would be challenging to keep Russell behind as he decided to start on soft tyres, giving him an advantage at the start and the first few laps. However, we expected him to struggle with his tyres at the end of the session, but we were just not close enough to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, Valtteri's race was compromised in turn six as his front wing endplate got damaged, resulting in a loss of downforce and an upset aero balance. The qualifying session in the afternoon confirmed the solidity of our package – unfortunately, we had mixed feelings as Zhou couldn't enter Q2 for just a few hundredths, due to a lock–up at turn 14. We are optimistic, however, that he'll be able to make up positions during tomorrow's race. Valtteri had a very solid session, and a good lap time allowed him to enter Q3. His ideal sector times had him even two tenths better in sector one, and that would have put him in P8 or P9: still, we know we're there and, with Valtteri being in a good position to score points and with a good balance of the car, we are all motivated to execute a good race and play our cards in the race tomorrow."

Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):

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

Sprint: 12th / 1:30.546

Fastest lap: 1:42.140 (Lap 6)

Tyres: Medium Used

Q1: 1:35.169 (6 laps)

Q2: 1:34.769 (6 laps)

Q3: 10th / 1:34.665 (3 laps)

"It's been a good day, overall, and we can look forward to tomorrow to hopefully finish our weekend on this level. In the Sprint, earlier today, I had a good start but then got a bit unlucky when I got sandwiched in turn six on the opening lap, causing damage to the front wing endplate – which unfortunately made the rest of the race tricky to manage. Apart from that, we enjoyed good pace, as we could see with Zhou, who made it into the top ten - which is promising for the main race tomorrow. Qualifying was a different business; it was a straightforward job from our side, and everything went smoothly, allowing us to make it past the Q3 threshold for the first time this season. Overall, it's been good to see our progress on track this weekend so far; we got pretty close to Nico [Hulkenberg] in Q3, so we should be in for some fun tomorrow, and hopefully some action. I think we have a realistic chance to score points, so we'll need to execute everything to perfection. As a plus, we are getting lots of support from the grandstands, which is surely a great boost do to well. Everyone is really motivated ahead of the race, and we are really raring to go."

Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):

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

Sprint result: 9th

Fastest lap: 1:41.502 (Lap 4)

Tyres: Medium Used

Q1: 16th / 1:35.505 (8 laps)

"Racing on a new track for me, the first time in front of a home crowd, with a new weekend format – we knew this weekend had the potential to be challenging, but we have plenty of positives to look back to today, even if qualifying could have been better. I feel we maximised all we could get out of the Sprint: P9 was not enough for a point, but we can feel really confident about the pace we displayed in those 19 laps, as we knew we needed some exceptional circumstances to come away with a place in the top eight. Missing out on Q2 in qualifying was disappointing, but it was not an easy session: I first got blocked in turn one on my first proper run, before a lock-up in turn 14 damaged my final attempt. I lost two and a half tenths there, and in the end, we were out by six hundredths. We had the potential to go all the way to Q3, but in such a tight field you need to have the perfect lap and today we were just a little bit short. Still, we saw we were quite competitive, especially on the medium tyre, which is a good indication for the race. We know we can push to the limit and make progress tomorrow: much can happen here and I'm looking forward to the race, when the conditions will likely be similar to what we had this morning. The support of the crowd has been incredible, something I never felt in my life: we all want to go out there in the race and give them something to smile about."

Credit: Stake F1 Team official website