Sauber anonymous once again, but Sutil does finish

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A quick pop quiz to begin this article. Without looking, tell me where Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez finished during yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Any idea? I doubt it. Once again, both drivers were pretty anonymous for the entire race, and the team is now just one of three stuck on zero points.

By the way, the answer to that question is 16th and 17th place, with Gutierrez ahead of Sutil.

In fact, Gutierrez didn’t have a bad start. Thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s grid penalty, he started up in 13th place, and managed to stay there for a little while. Eventually, Vettel, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen all managed to find a way past, and it went downhill from there for the Mexican.

“Obviously, we cannot be happy with this result,” Gutierrez said. “It is not where we want to be. It was a good start, and I managed to gain some positions. After that I just kept dropping back. During the race it was very challenging to keep the tires alive and to have good speed on the straights.

“Nevertheless, we should not lose our motivation. We have the test this week and we need to have the right programme to get things sorted out.”

Adrian Sutil did meet his own target of seeing the checkered flag in Spain, but given that he finished only ahead of the Marussia and Caterham drivers, he has little else to smile about.

“The race was not very exciting for me,” he said. “Unfortunately, the performance of my car was not good and I was struggling with the grip.

“It was a disappointing race for me. We still have a huge problem with the grip level, especially while turning into the corners. We still have to work on this. Now we have to look forward and do better during the upcoming races.”

Given that Simona de Silvestro, Giedo van der Garde and Sergey Sirotkin have all set their sights on a seat with Sauber next season, such a disastrous start to the season is the last thing that either Gutierrez or Sutil would have wanted. The car had undergone some weight loss for the race, but it appeared to have little effect.

Attention will now turn to Monaco in two weeks’ time, but it might take something out of the ordinary for Sauber to score any points at F1’s glamor event.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.