Nasr: Early races present golden opportunities for Sauber

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Felipe Nasr believes that Sauber has a golden opportunity to rack up points in the early stages of the 2015 Formula 1 season whilst a number of its rivals struggle to find their feet.

Nasr made his first F1 start at the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, charging to fifth place at the flag to record the best ever finish for a Brazilian driver on debut.

With Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson finishing eighth, the race marked a seismic change in fortunes for the Swiss team after it failed to score a single point in the entirety of 2014. It now sits third in the constructors’ championship behind Mercedes and Ferrari.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Nasr believes that the problems being faced by teams such as Red Bull, Lotus, McLaren and Force India give Sauber a chance to continue to pick up points and make the most of its early season edge.

“I knew the car had the potential to do it but to hold back Red Bull was unexpected,” Nasr admitted. “It could only show that the car [and] the engine has done a good improvement over the winter, over last year.

“I think we need to take the profit from these early races to maximize our potential and getting the opportunities right. I think there are still teams struggling out there to finish races and we need to use that as an advantage for us.”

Nasr’s success in Australia was made all the sweeter by the fact that it came off the back of a difficult weekend for Sauber that saw the team become embroiled in a legal row with former reserve driver Giedo van der Garde.

“It was very unique I have to say, coming from a very troubled weekend,” Nasr said. “My very first ever weekend in Formula 1 was not ideal the way it started, with all this trouble, going to court and everything else; missing first free practice, a track that I didn’t know.

“So it was a very good outcome to come up fifth in my first ever race and I think for the team as well it was something they really needed. It’s important. It shows the team was ready, myself was ready to put the things on the side and being able to deliver in the race. It was something very special.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.