Felipe Nasr says his rookie season in Formula 1 went as expected thanks to the honesty given by his Sauber team and is optimistic for 2016 having seen the 'aggressive' concept which will be developed over the winter.
The Brazilian driver made the step up from GP2 to F1 this year and says he is pleased with his results in 2015, ending the year as second-best rookie behind Max Verstappen in the largely unfancied Sauber.
Nasr got heads turning after finishing fifth in Australia and although it represented his best result of the year the 23-year-old went on to collect five additional points finishes, ending the year level with Pastor Maldonado in 13th.
Nasr says he was given a very realistic outlook by the team when he signed which was then hammered home during pre-season testing.
“We were being very realistic that it was going to be a difficult year and that is what I like from the team because the moment I signed the contract they were very honest,” Nasr said. “Saying all the things we had, this limitation factor on the development side. I think this was the most positive thing I have seen so far was the honesty from everyone within the team. They didn't promise a thing that wasn't going to happen.”
Naturally Nasr is aiming for an improvement from both the team and himself next year and after getting to understand Sauber's 2016 challenger says the team is ready to take risks to discover a more competitive package.
“All I can say is that the concept looks very different,” he said. “The car that we had this year and last year, both looked pretty much similar in terms of the concept. But next year we are playing it a little bit more aggressive. As I said, we know the areas that we have to improve and we have to give it a try. We need to try something.”
Asked whether Sauber's new technical director Mark Smith – who has previously worked for Jordan, Renault, Red Bull, Force India and Caterham – is the catalyst for the concept changes, Nasr confirmed the British designer has been a strong influence and agrees with his approach to ensure Sauber are not left trailing at the back of the pack.
“He was the guy, straightaway, he wanted to apply this approach,” he explained. “We all gave the feedback where the car had to be improved and I think he has given a lot of directions where to follow with the car development.
“This concept is something. If we kept developing the one we have now it is little steps that we can do. That is why we are taking this different approach.”