24 February 2015
Nasr, Sauber focused on F1 points in 2015
Felipe Nasr believes that Sauber and Ferrari have made enough of a step forward to make the Swiss team a contender for regular F1 points in 2015.
F1 rookie Felipe Nasr says that the Sauber team is working hard to ensure that it returns to the F1 points this season, after a miserable 2014 campaign that left it close to the bottom of the teams' standings.
Only Caterham's worse results prevented the Swiss team from propping up the constructors' table after Marussia broke into the top ten at Monaco but, with the future of both minnows looking uncertain, Sauber faces the prospect of being the sport's latest backmarker if it cannot raise its game.
To that end, fielding the inexperienced pairing of Nasr and second-year driver Marcus Ericsson looks something of a risk, but the Brazilian – who has a year of testing with Williams under his belt – believes that things are moving in the right direction with the new C34. Both drivers took turns to give chase to the pace-setting Ferrari in the recent Jerez test and, while neither expects to be challenging for podiums when the season kicks off in Australia next month, Nasr is confident that there will be no repeat of 2014.
“I think the team is totally focused on the points,” he pointed out, “We all want to get back to the points and we are going through all the errors we saw over the winter, from the car last year, that we need to improve.
“We have been trying different things and, the more we run, the more mileage we do, the more problems we can solve. I would say it is not only one area [that the team has targeted], it is many areas that have to be improved. We all know we are lacking downforce - this is quite clear - but, from the chassis side, I think there are some improvements already compared to last year and, of course, the Ferrari engine is a step ahead as well from where they were last year.”
Team-mate Ericsson has already praised Ferrari for taking a step forward, and shares Nasr's belief that points are possible.
“A lot of people were doing different programmes in Jerez [and] that was why we were competitive,” he acknowledged, “We are not fooling ourselves in thinking we are going to be fighting for P1, [but] we are aiming to fight for points. We are following our programme and I think we are making good progress all the time. We are happy with the testing and pre-season so far, [so] hopefully we can continue that trend for the rest [of the year].”
Exactly where Sauber will find itself in the pecking order remains to be seen, however, with testing yet to produce a definitive hierarchy, especially behind the expected frontrunners, and Nasr, too, remains uncertain who the team should be measuring itself against.
“It's difficult to say [if team has made step up on 2014] as you need to have other teams as reference and it is difficult to judge where our main rivals are at the moment,” he claimed, “We've been working a lot on our performance side and I can say that there is a step forward from last year, and a step up as well from Jerez to here.
“I think the whole car got a bit more consistent, and I think we've improved our long runs as well, how we manage the tyres. It's steady progress and all going in the right direction.”
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