Head of track engineering Tom McCullough admits that a strong qualifying performance will be key for Sauber to try and add to its points tally in Monaco next weekend.

The team has managed just five points from the opening five races of the year, in stark contrast to last year when it had 41 on the board, and heads to the Principality eager to try and get its campaign back on track.

Although the team failed to score in Barcelona, improved pace saw Esteban Gutierrez come from 19th on the grid to finish just outside the points in eleventh, while Nico Hulkenberg could well have added to his tally for the season had it not been for a collision with Jean-Eric Vergne in the pits.

With further updates to come this weekend, McCullough said the team was hopeful of an improved showing in Monte Carlo, with qualifying being particularly vital around the challenging street circuit.

"The circuit in Monaco is a real challenge for the drivers and the team," he said. "The track improves throughout the weekend and it's important to give the drivers a set-up that gives them confidence as the barriers are very close. For Esteban it will be his first experience in a F1 car in Monaco, but his GP2 experience has given him a good reference.

"This will be the first race of the season where we use both the soft and super-soft tyres. We have some further updated aero parts to add to the package we took to Barcelona. Coming off the back of our better race pace in Barcelona, our aim is to qualify stronger, as this is particularly important in Monaco where overtaking is so difficult."

With both drivers confident about their chances of scoring points, Hulkenberg said it was vital for the team to make the most of its performance on the softer compound rubber.

"I'm really looking forward to the Monaco Grand Prix," the German said. "The circuit along with the backdrop of the principality are just fantastic, and the atmosphere is one of the best in the season. The track is one of a kind with extremely narrow streets that will punish every little mistake. This is a great challenge between me, the car and the track, and I always have a lot of fun driving there. In terms of performance, I'm quite positive.

"We've seen that the softer tyre compounds suit us quite well, which gives me confidence we'll have a good weekend."


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