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Ericsson upbeat as Sauber makes Q2 breakthrough in Singapore

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Marcus Ericsson felt upbeat following qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday after securing his first Q2 berth since the Chinese Grand Prix back in April.

The Sauber Formula 1 Team brought its first raft of upgrades for the C35 car to Singapore after being forced to wait on receiving a financial boost before developing them.

The Swiss operation was taken over by Longbow Finance over the summer, securing the long-term future of the team and allowing it to hire a number of key personnel.

Ericsson put the updates on his car to good use by qualifying 16th on Saturday in Singapore, making it through to Q2 ahead of the Renault pair of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer.

While Ericsson was pleased with the result, he admitted that the team was still struggling for pace in comparison to the midfield runners.

“It is positive that I reached Q2 today,” Ericsson said.

“Overall it has been a difficult weekend for me, as I haven’t been able to get a good feeling for the car during the practice sessions.

“Therefore it makes it even nicer that we managed to make it into the second qualifying session.

“It is a good effort, but we need to keep pushing to close the gap to the midfield.”

Ericsson’s Sauber teammate Felipe Nasr was less pleased after finishing 18th, citing a drop-off in pace following practice.

“It was a disappointing qualifying for me,” Nasr conceded.

“I was surprised by the drop of performance in qualifying, as I felt comfortable in the car during the free practice sessions.

“We went in the right direction in regards to the car’s balance, then in qualifying I struggled with the rear grip on my first try.

“On the second set of tires I felt that my tire temperatures were not in the right working window.

“Anything can happen here in Singapore, so we keep fighting.”

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

NBCSN will present ‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ Monday

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With motor racing reckoning with its own issues of diversity and equality, “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” will tackle the topics of social justice with several athletes. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday, July 13 on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic channel and on regional sports networks.

The roundtable discussions will be hosted by Damon Hack and feature Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Jimmy Rollins and Ozzie Smith in one segment. The other segment will include Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins and James Blake.

Race has been a major topic in motorsports this year.

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its race after lobbying by Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the premier Cup Series. In Formula One, six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton has joined Black Lives Matter marches in London and also formed a panel on diversity. The lone Black driver in F1 also led 14 of 20 drivers taking a knee before the season opener in Austria.