Sauber picked up its first points of the 2016 Formula 1 season on Sunday as Felipe Nasr finished the Brazilian Grand Prix in ninth place.
In a year blighted by financial difficulties, Sauber has found itself sitting bottom of the constructors’ championship since the Austrian Grand Prix when fellow backmarkers Manor managed to get Pascal Wehrlein across the line in P10.
Nasr started 21st in Brazil, but a bold strategy call from the Sauber pit wall allowed him to make up positions as others opted to switch tires on numerous occasions.
Nasr ran as high as sixth in the closing stages, but was powerless to keep the likes of Max Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo behind.
The Brazilian managed to hold on to ninth place at the checkered flag, picking up two points for Sauber and lifting the team above Manor in the standings.
“I have no words to describe now. But it feels amazing, the way it all happened,” Nasr told NBCSN after the race.
“I never really gave up even though the year has been difficult. Here could be the opportunity. Sunday will be an important day to keep the car on the track.
“When it came I was here and ready for every single part of the race. The track conditions were nuts. I couldn’t have hoped for better. To do it here in Brazil was great. An incredible feeling.”
Nasr admitted that the result eased some of the pressure on the team after a difficult year, with the difference between 10th and 11th in the constructors’ standings equating to tens of millions of dollars in prize money.
“A difficult year. But I never lost confidence in the team,” Nasr said.
“It was a matter of putting things together. I saw it and I said I’m going to give everything today. Hard to keep [Fernando] Alonso behind. But that’s racing. I really enjoyed it today.”