Against the run of play, Sauber failed to add to their points haul in India while Force India edged away from them in the constructors’ championship.
Heading into the race it seemed inevitable the resurgent Sauber would pass their rivals for fifth place. Now the gap between them has opened up to 23 points.
Nico Hulkenberg was on course for at least eighth place when he suffered a failure on his car.
“When I was braking into the last turn something clicked and all of a sudden my brakes were gone,” he said. “Something must have been broken on the car.”
“Following that I pitted and went out again, but something wasn’t right.”
This was a double blow for Sauber as Paul di Resta inherited Hulkenberg’s position, followed by Adrian Sutil.
Esteban Gutierrez scored his first points for Sauber in Japan but failed to add to their tally in India after a poor weekend. He was almost a second slower than Hulkenberg in qualifying and picked up a drive-through penalty during the race.
“We are very disappointed, because Nico was clearly in the points before a technical problem forced him to retire,” said team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. “Even if this was a setback today it is important for us to know that our competitiveness is still there.”