Chinese GP circuit set to aid Sauber development

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Sauber F1 Team believe that the Shanghai International Circuit will be the perfect test for their car next weekend as they look to improve the C32 ahead of the European season.

“The Shanghai circuit has a good mix of low, medium and high-speed corners,” explained head of track engineering Tom McCullough. “The track has several technical sections where corners lead straight into further corners requiring a good car balance and precise driving. The smooth track surface and typically low track temperatures have a significant impact on how the tires perform, especially at the start of the race weekend whilst the track is cleaning up.”

However, both Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez failed to express a similar affinity for the circuit in the team statement.

“The circuit in Shanghai is not particularly one of my favorite tracks,” said Hulkenberg, but he was still targeting a strong result in China. “I have a better feeling now I have driven my first race in the C32, especially because we were able to collect a lot of information. In Malaysia we scored points and that is also my goal for China.”

This race will mark Gutierrez’s first race at the Shanghai International Circuit, but he is relishing the chance to get to grips with the track.

“I don’t actually know the track yet, so it will be an interesting challenge again to learn the circuit and then to develop confidence throughout the practice sessions. Learning a new track all depends on the approach you take.”

Sauber will be keen on improving on their current haul of four points from the opening two races, especially with Force India making such a strong start to the season which already puts the Swiss team on the back foot in the battle for P6 in the constructors’ championship this season.

Kubica, di Resta complete Williams F1 tests in Hungary

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Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta have both completed one-day tests for Williams in a 2014-spec Formula 1 car as part of the team’s evaluation for its 2018 line-up.

Williams is known to be considering a number of drivers to partner Lance Stroll at the team next year, including existing racer Felipe Massa.

Massa is thought to be going up against Kubica and di Resta for the 2018 drive, with the latter duo taking part in a private test at the Hungaroring in Budapest this week to aid the team’s evaluation.

After missing out on a 2018 Renault drive due to lingering questions about his physical condition six years after his rally accident, Kubica tested for Williams at Silverstone last week before getting back behind the wheel of the 2014 FW36 car in Hungary on Tuesday.

Kubica’s test was called “productive” by Williams, with the Pole handing duties over to Mercedes DTM racer di Resta on Wednesday.

Di Resta raced in F1 with Force India between 2010 and 2013 before returning to DTM, but made a surprise return at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix with Williams when Massa was taken ill. Di Resta impressed on short notice, putting himself in contention for a full-time return to F1 in 2018.

Williams has one of the few remaining seats on offer in F1 for 2018, with Massa’s future known to be in question after a quiet campaign thus far.

The Brazilian had been due to retire from F1 at the end of last year, only for Williams to recall him after Valtteri Bottas’ late move up to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement.

Massa has made clear he would like to keep racing in F1 next year, but only if the deal is right and if Williams is determined to keep him.

While Massa, Kubica and di Resta appear to be the three leading contenders for the seat, Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe made clear in Japan there was a “large range” of drivers under consideration.

“You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at, but honestly, the range is almost unlimited,” Lowe said.

“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so, and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”