Felipe Nasr says he must now face the 'realistic facts' that Sauber could struggle going forward as it slips behind in the development race.

Sauber endured a difficult first day of action for the Spanish Grand Prix, out-pacing only Manor and Force India, a position Nasr says he expected since the team hasn't brought any major update to the car during the break.

Even worse, the Brazilian - who scored points in Australia and China - suggests it is a position he may need to get used, saying Q3 in Spain will prove difficult.

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"Realistically speaking, this is what we have to face now. We are not like other teams that brought any major updates in the car, so I was expecting to have things a bit more difficult here. The main issue we had is the rear tyres overheating, I think by our car not having enough downforce early in the lap, so you are already wearing the tyres a lot and when you are getting to the last sector, is where we struggle the most.

"It will be difficult to get into Q3. That is the realistic facts we have to face now, so we will have to do the best we can."