Sauber seeks Bahrain reset; two test driver runs planned

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Of the four teams yet to score a point through two Grands Prix in 2014, Lotus and Sauber are perhaps the two biggest surprises (Caterham and Marussia, not so much).

Sauber has had two nondescript runs thus far and their Sunday in Malaysia featured a double retirement. Esteban Gutierrez suffered a gearbox issue on a pit stop; Adrian Sutil had a power loss.

“After quite a long stint, I made a pitstop and couldn’t engage first gear,” said Gutierrez. “I tried it many times, but it didn’t work, so there was not much I could do. In the end we made a step forward this weekend. Obviously it was not a good race, but we have to keep positive. We must solve our issues so we are consistent and reliable at the track and have no technical problems. We still have a long season ahead and I am confident we can improve.”

Added Sutil of his afternoon, “In my last lap I lost power and then suddenly the car switched off. I don’t know what happened, so we need to analyse it. It is a shame. Many things don’t work well at the moment, so we need to learn from that.”

Head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara admitted the team has a ways to go.

“We will investigate both problems in order to solve them before the next race in Bahrain. Overall, our performance in the race wasn’t where we expected it to be, so we have some homework to do,” he said.

Additionally Monday, Sauber has confirmed official reserve driver Giedo van der Garde will take Gutierrez’s seat in FP1 at Bahrain, with test driver Sergey Sirotkin set to run on Day 1 of the next Bahrain test to accumulate the necessary mileage to gather his superlicense. Van der Garde will do Day 2 there.

Although she’ll have several days in the car this year beyond her simulation and training work, Sauber hasn’t said yet when new affiliated driver Simona de Silvestro would have an opportunity behind the wheel.

F1 2017 driver review: Kimi Raikkonen

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Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 7
Best Finish: P2 (Monaco, Hungary)
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 205
Laps Led: 40
Championship Position: 4th

While this may have statistically been Kimi Raikkonen’s best campaign since his first year back in F1 in 2012, there is a good case for it being one of his most disappointing to date.

Raikkonen’s continued role at Ferrari has been questioned on a number of occasions, but the Finn looked capable of answering his critics heading into 2017 after impressing through pre-season testing as he appeared to get to grips well with the new-style cars.

But we soon grew accustomed to the same old story: flashes of potential, but otherwise an underwhelming, unsatisfactory campaign that saw Raikkonen be dwarfed by his teammate, Sebastian Vettel.

Raikkonen’s charge to his first pole position for over eight years in Monaco gave hope of a popular win, only for Ferrari to play its strategy in favor of title contender Vettel – why wouldn’t the team do so? – to leave him a disgruntled second.

While Vettel was able to impress at the majority of circuits, Raikkonen only looked strong at tracks that were unquestionably ‘Ferrari’ tracks, such as Hungary and Brazil. Like Vettel, Raikkonen should have racked up a good haul of points in Singapore, only for the start-line crash to sideline both Ferraris before they even reached Turn 1.

Again there is the question of ‘what could have been?’ in Malaysia had it not been for the spark plug issue on the grid, yet in Japan, Raikkonen was nowhere, finishing behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls.

Finishing just five points clear of Daniel Ricciardo despite having a much faster car for the best part of the season and the Red Bull driver’s own reliability issues sums up the disappointment of Raikkonen’s campaign.

He should have been an ally for Vettel in the title race by nicking points of Lewis Hamilton, much as Valtteri Bottas was doing for his Mercedes teammate. Instead, Raikkonen seemed to be tagging along for the best part of this season.

Season High: Pole in Monaco, his first since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

Season Low: Finishing a distant P4 at Spa – a circuit he made his own in the 2000s.