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.”