Sauber’s nightmare start to 2014 hits a new low

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Sauber F1 Team’s disastrous start to the 2014 Formula 1 season hit a new low today during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, as Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil were both knocked out in Q1.

The Swiss team has failed to score any points so far this season, and has rarely looked capable of doing so. Neither Gutierrez nor Sutil have been overly impressive, or looked to make the best of a bad situation, and today in Monaco they were unceremoniously dumped out during qualifying at the first time of asking.

Both drivers found themselves in the drop zone after Daniil Kvyat moved up into 16th place with his belated timed lap following a spin, yet they only needed to find one-tenth of a second. However, when Felipe Massa and Marcus Ericsson came together at Mirabeau with one minute left on the clock in Q1, it stopped the cars behind from improving their times thanks to the yellow flags.

As a result, both Gutierrez and Sutil finished one-tenth of a second behind Kvyat, and dropped out in Q1.

Although Sauber has been struggling so far this season, it has rarely looked so hapless as it did today. Barring a race of attrition, it is hard to see the Swiss team from finishing in the top ten any time soon.

In fact, Gutierrez and Sutil might have to keep an eye on the drivers behind them. Marussia’s Jules Bianchi finished six-tenths of a second down on Sutil in P19, but he told NBCSN after qualifying that he was confident he could stick with Saubers during the race tomorrow.

This result will only increase the pressure on both Gutierrez and Sutil, whose seats are already under threat for 2015. Sergey Sirotkin, Giedo van der Garde and Simona de Silvestro all have thrown their hat into the ring for a place with Sauber, and going on recent form, there’s a strong argument for completely replacing the driver line-up.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool