Sauber says points "still possible" despite Australia miss

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn insists points are still realistic for her Formula 1 team this season, despite it missing out in the Australian Grand Prix.

Sauber says points "still possible" despite Australia miss
Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber C36, Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32, Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-17 and Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36 collide in the gravel trap
Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber C36
Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber C36
Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber Team Principal
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36
Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber C36
Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber C36

The Swiss team's C36 was the slowest car in the Melbourne opener, with Marcus Ericsson 3.2s off the pace in Q2 and newcomer Antonio Giovinazzi lapped twice on his way to 12th in the race.

Sauber is running a year-old Ferrari engine in 2017 and had identified the usual attrition-hit season opener as a great opportunity to score points, but Kaltenborn believes it will not be its only chance.

“I think points are still possible,” she told Motorsport.com. “We know this engine, we know the surrounding it has and we have to focus on our strengths which is on the chassis side.

“We will try our best to compensate for that loss, whatever that may be. At some races it will be less but we knew that. There are other races coming up where we definitely have our chance.”

Last season Sauber had to wait for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the season, to break its points duck as Felipe Nasr scored a ninth place to move the team clear of rival squad Manor.

Kaltenborn said it was targeting its first major aerodynamic upgrade of the current campaign for May’s Spanish Grand Prix, which is traditional for the first European race of the season.

“There will be little pieces always coming depending on how they pan out from the wind tunnel,” she added.

Kaltenborn also expects to receive a small improvement on the driveability side of its Ferrari engine, which cannot be properly upgraded because its specification is frozen.

This has given her optimism the team can remain in the midfield battle, if it unlocks more speed and avoids incidents like Ericsson’s first-lap crash with Kevin Magnussen.

“We have definitely closed the gap to certain teams that are ahead of us but we still need to work and make sure we make that gap smaller,” she said. “We see that, for us, our pace is there and we just need to make sure these sort of accidents don’t happen and that qualifying is a bit better.”

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