Sauber left China with one badly damaged car and one which had fallen from first to tenth during the race. But the race gave Sauber renewed confidence they are heading in the right direction.
“From a technical point of view, China was a successful weekend for our team,” said head of track engineering Tom McCullough.
“We had taken some measures before that race which proved to be effective. We now have a direction, and we know what has to be done.”
Nico Hulkenberg led the race early on but poor pace on the soft tires and his final set of medium tires saw him fall to the bottom of the points places.
“It was quite a mixed race with mixed emotions,” said Hulkenberg. “It was obviously very nice to be leading again, and to be at the front battling with the top teams.”
“I had a reasonable start and some nice battles in the first couple of laps. I was able to gain some positions, but, somehow, towards the end of the race, we were losing or lacking a little bit of pace.
“Once you are in the lead or second you understandably hope for more. Nevertheless, it might not have been the true picture, as we were racing out of sequence with other people who were starting on soft tires.”
Hulkenberg reached the top ten shootout for the first time this year in qualifying. But rookie team mate Esteban Gutierrez was knocked out in the first round at the beginning of a tough weekend which ended with him receive a five-place grid penalty for crashing into Adrian Sutil.