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.