Sauber drivers seeking step forward in Malaysia

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Sauber drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil are both ready for the challenge of the Malaysian Grand Prix next weekend, and have targeted a big step forward following a disappointing showing in Australia last weekend.

Both Sutil and Gutierrez had rather anonymous races in Melbourne, eventually finishing in 11th and 12th, and a lap down on race winner Nico Rosberg. Having failed to show any kind of pace so far, both drivers are hoping that the heat of Malaysia could see the team take a stride towards the points.

“I am curious to drive the car on this track where the aerodynamics play a huge role,” Sutil explained. “This is important in order to get to know where we stand. If a car is good in Sepang, then it will be fast on other tracks as well. You need everything here – good aerodynamics, grip in the corners and high speed on the straights. The aerodynamic efficiency of the car is a key.

“Generally, my hope is that we improve from race to race. In Malaysia, the main objective is to get better and to make a step forward.”

2013 rookie of the year Gutierrez held no punches when previewing the race, saying: “It is a fact that we are not happy yet with our performance.

“We need to put our heads together, be united as a team and make progress in every little detail we can. We have a great team, and I am confident we can improve.”

Having relied largely on ever-the-nearlyman Nico Hulkenberg for the bulk of its points in 2013, Sauber will be hoping that both Sutil and Gutierrez can meet the challenge this year and help the team to return to the podium after two years away.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).