Sauber rookie Felipe Nasr has hailed the hiring of new technical director Mark Smith as the first step towards returning the team as a regular points contender.

Lamenting the fact that his string start to the season has gradually been unravelled by other teams making progress with development parts while Sauber has watched its pennies and only made upgrades when absolutely certain they'd work, Nasr sees the acquisition of former Jordan, Red Bull, Force India and Caterham man Smith as a catalyst to improvement.

"We could have been fighting for top ten positions most of the time," the Brazilian noted, having placed fifth on debut but only added to his tally on two further occasions, "We can see the steps Force India and Lotus did over the last couple of races were enough to put them back in the points where, in the first four races, we were fighting for those points. Now we are a bit far from them, but that's what we face.

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"It's difficult, not only for me, but for the team, to accept, but it's not only a matter of bringing something new if it's not going to work. I feel that this move of bringing in a new technical director to overview the picture of our car, to direct the team and see where the car is at the moment, which areas we should work on in the short term, medium term, and long term is already the beginning of the solution.

"As I said, the basis of the car is quite good but, to make a step forward - and I mean to gain one or two tenths - we need to make something bigger. When the team tries to develop something, and spend money on the right things, you expect to have a bigger jump. You're not trying to find, from a front wing, just half a tenth, so I think it was a smart move on the part of the team and now we need to give time for these things to work out.

"It's not just throwing money on things that maybe don't work, we need to correlate the numbers, make sure they work in the wind tunnel and on the designers' side, to bring something that is going to add a lot to the car. I feel the potential of the people who work here is strong, and the facilities are there, so I feel that things are starting to pick up."