Felipe Nasr has admitted that Pascal Wehrlein's point for Manor in Austria has heaped extra pressure on the Sauber team to unlock the potential of its car over the remainder of the season.
Wehrlein's tenth place at the Red Bull Ring means that Sauber is now the only team without a point in 2016 and, with prize money only guaranteed for the top ten constructors, adds another layer of frustration for a squad already struggling to find the budget to remain in the sport, let alone by competitive. The Swiss squad has yet to better twelfth in any race this season, with Nasr and team-mate Marcus Ericsson coming in 13th and 15th respectively in Austria.
“It just kind of opens our eyes and gives us another reason to keep on pushing with our development, which is supposed to come very soon,” Nasr said of Manor's point, “We have to raise the game. We have been running the same car as in the winter, all winter, so it's time to bring some pace in the car. We have the latest-spec Ferrari [engine] now, which already should help, but we need to bring some new aero package which will give some downforce.”
Revealing that an aero upgrade is due for the second half of the season, starting at next weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, Nasr says he hopes that an upturn in performance – and funding - will have a positive effect on one of F1's more venerable operations as it faces a return to the sport's basement just two years after its last visit.
“It gives everyone a boost, everyone some perspective to look forward and, if the financial side is getting better, then for sure we can start developing the car, which we haven't done all year long,” he noted, “I'm pretty sure everybody brings bits to every race, little bits, and you just see the car getting quicker and quicker as the year goes on. We haven't got that at all. As soon as we start doing that, I'm sure we are not too far from the points.
“[Austria] at least showed that the car, at least on the soft compound, goes really well. The car comes more together, the pace was really good. We were running against the Williams, the McLarens, running seventh most of the race and, if it wasn't for that safety car, it could have been a different story.
“Points would be very welcome because, at the end of the day, that is what we are looking at. If we can steadily improve the car, with twelve races to go, [there are] a lot of opportunities. If we get ourselves in the right way of understanding the car and getting the parts to work, I'm sure we can be in an interesting place. Why not?”