Sauber is in the news with another driver story leading into this week’s Malaysian Grand Prix, but at least this one was previously planned.
Two weeks ago, the Giedo van der Garde vs. Sauber legal drama overshadowed the week heading into Melbourne.
But this week will see the team’s new reserve driver – Ferrari Academy driver Raffaele Marciello – make his debut in FP1 filling in for Felipe Nasr. He’ll drive the No. 36 Sauber C34-Ferrari.
Marciello confirmed the news earlier this month, but it hadn’t been determined whether he’d fill in for Nasr or Marcus Ericsson.
“It will be exciting to drive the Sauber C34-Ferrari for the first time,” Marciello said in a team release. “That will also be the same for the Italians, as we have not had an Italian driver in Formula One for quite a few years. I will definitely enjoy the experience, and I am really looking forward to it.”
The last Italians in F1 were Jarno Trulli and Vitantonio Liuzzi, now teammates in the FIA Formula E Championship, who last raced in 2011.
Marciello will be making his track debut at the Sepang International Circuit, as well.
“I am confident I can do a good job as well as supporting the team in order to find a set-up for the car which suits the track. I have never been to Malaysia before, but I know the track quite well from the Ferrari simulator in Maranello, and I am sure I can get to learn it fast once I drive there. As the circuit has some fast corners, I think the car’s downforce will be crucial.
“Another important aspect will be the weather, as the humidity, along with the temperatures, is quite high. From a driver’s perspective it will be a challenge, but this is the same for everyone. Together with my trainer, I am getting well prepared for this weekend.”
Sauber will look to build on its surprise double-points finish at Melbourne this weekend in the heat of Kuala Lumpur. Three years ago, of course, Sergio Perez nearly stole the race win away from Fernando Alonso, but the Mexican recorded a career-best second place.