Sutil, Sauber endure miserable weekend in Bahrain


It’s hard to call the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend anything but a nightmare for the Sauber squad.

While its 2013 driver Nico Hulkenberg was busy finishing fifth a second straight race for Force India, and its 2012 driver Sergio Perez making his return to the podium for the first time since Monza that year, but now Hulkenberg’s teammate at Force India, Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil had utterly miserable weekends.

Sutil’s in particular started bad and went worse as it went on. A loss of power put an early end to his Friday second practice. Saturday saw him dropped to the back of the grid after he was ruled to have blocked Romain Grosjean’s Lotus.

Then Sunday, he was the first of Sauber’s two cars that got speared by another car acting like a Swiss army knife. Gutierrez’s barrel roll after being hit by the other Lotus, driven by Pastor Maldonado, garnered the headlines but Sutil’s race ended before that dramatic moment when Jules Bianchi misjudged a braking point in his Marussia, and made contact with the German.

End result? P22 and last after rolling off from the same grid position.

“My race was over quite early. Jules (Bianchi) braked too late andwent into my car in the hairpin. I was not able to do anything to prevent it, and my car was damaged,” Sutil said in the team’s post-race release. “He was driving aggressively for the whole race and pushed me off at the start. With his move he destroyed mine as well as his own race. It was unnecessary.”

With the team’s second consecutive double DNF, Sauber has the fewest race finishes on the grid this year with just the two from Melbourne.

Continued chassis development and gains from Ferrari on the power unit front will be the only way for Sauber to progress this year, as the perennial midfielders seek the level of competitiveness achieved by Williams, Force India and occasionally Toro Rosso thus far through three Grands Prix.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

Follow @JerryBonkowski