F1’s struggling duo hope Miami is an “outlier” with futures uncertain

It was a tough weekend for two drivers fighting for their F1 futures.

(L to R): Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Sauber C44 and Zhou Guanyu (CHN) Sauber C44. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 6, Miami
(L to R): Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Sauber C44 and Zhou Guanyu (CHN) Sauber…

Sauber driver Valtteri Bottas hopes that their lack of performance at the Miami Grand Prix was simply an “outlier” as he fights for his F1 future.

Bottas and teammate Zhou Guanyu didn’t fare well in Miami as they were both knocked out in Q1.

Neither driver contended for the points either, with Bottas particularly dropping back from his starting position.

It was a clear step back in performance for the Sauber outfit, which saw both cars make SQ3 in the China sprint.

Bottas was in contention for points in the main grand prix in Shanghai before a mechanical issue forced him out of the race.

With both drivers out of contract at the end of the year - and Sauber not wanting to retain either of them - they’re in need of a big result.

Reflecting on Sauber’s display in Miami, Bottas is hopeful their poor performance was a one-off.

“Of course, the starting position wasn’t the best, so I think it was good to try something different. Then, honestly, with that strategy, the timing of the Safety Car was the worst possible,” he said.

“I hope this was an outlier. In the last two events we’ve been in a better place. Again, the next race [at Imola] is a very different track, so with some new bits on the car then we’ll see again. But it is tight, you know, and small gains can make a big difference.”

Zhou managed to out-race Bottas in Miami, scrapping with the likes of Oscar Piastri in the closing laps.

Zhou added: “It was actually not too bad for us [with the Safety Car], but the only thing is that we went for softs, so we had almost 30 laps on softs and they fall off,” he commented.

“I think the issue was that we lacked some top speed against Alex and I couldn’t really pass him on the straights, so the whole race was really compromised.”

Zhou revealed that Sauber tried a variety of setups but none of them worked.

“It’s very clear this weekend both cars it’s been a real struggle. We tried to play a lot with different set-ups during Friday and Saturday but both didn’t seem to work,” he added.

“On the other side, I think a lot of the competitors brought upgrades for the last few races and we still have similar to what we had a few races ago. I’m sure in Imola we can make a step and it’s a question of how much.”

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