Sutil, Sauber endure miserable weekend in Bahrain

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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.

Ricciardo: Red Bull has ‘decent chance’ of Abu Dhabi F1 victory

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Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull stands a “decent chance” of signing off from the 2017 Formula 1 season with a victory in next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After a slow start to the year, Red Bull made massive gains across the course of the season by developing its RB13 to end the season as front-runners, rivaling Mercedes and Ferrari for pace.

The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has a number of slow-speed sections that should suit the RB13 car, with Ricciardo optimistic about his chances of not only ending his podium drought at the track, but even winning the race.

“Yas Marina has actually been one of my favorite tracks over the years,” Ricciardo said in Red Bull’s pre-race preview.

“It’s been a bit like Suzuka for me though, a track that I’ve always enjoyed and gone well on but not quite reached the podium at. I broke that trend in Suzuka this year so hopefully I can do the same in Abu Dhabi.

“When you have so much time away from the car in the off season it helps to sign off with a strong result as it makes you feel like you really deserve a break.

“I think we should have a strong car in Abu Dhabi. I said I want another win before the season is out and I think we have a decent chance of achieving that.”

Red Bull has claimed three race wins through 2017, with Ricciardo’s victory in Azerbaijan being followed up by successes for teammate Max Verstappen in Malaysia and Mexico.