Bottas on the Sauber F1 C44: “I’m definitely much happier in the car now than I was this time last year”

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The 2024 Formula 1 season is getting closer. After the three days of preseason testing have been completed, the teams and drivers are already fine-tuning the final details ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which will be held this weekend. Although the preseason gives us a good idea of how fast the teams are heading into the first race, however, the real results will begin in the first free practice session at the Bahrain International Circuit.

There are two teams that changed their names during the off-season. The first of them was AlphaTauri, who left the name of the clothing brand behind to rename themselves as Visa CashApp RB, however, today we will focus mainly on the other team that changed its name. Who used to be called Alfa Romeo, were renamed (very controversially) to Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber.

Photo Credit: Stake F1 Team

As the lead driver, the very experienced driver and 10-time Grand Prix winner, Valtteri Bottas, will be teammate Guanyu Zhou once again. With Bottas finishing preseason in P18 with a best time of 1:32.227 and his teammate finishing in P4 with a time of 1:30.647, Sauber is ready to start the 2024 Formula 1 season.

“Pretty exciting. I haven’t still driven the car in a very low fuel [set up], apart from the end of the race, but that’s with all the tyres. I need to get a feel on that and, you know, if the field is close, which I believe it will be, especially around the mid-pack, we need to qualify well,” Bottas affirmed.

“[The track] is quite low-grip, but then with the new tyres for one lap, it’s decent grip. It’s mainly in the race that the deg is quite high here.

“The last two years, I feel like quite often we were a bit boxed with the setup because of certain balance issues,  but now we are more in the middle of the range, let’s say, like mechanically with the roll-bars and mechanical balance and stuff like that,” Bottas confirmed. “We are in a better place for that in terms of track-to-track, we should be able to get the car better balanced, so that’s a solid starting point.  But yeah, through performance, that’s what we’re going to find out this weekend, which I’m pretty sure we’re going to be in a better place than last year.”

Bottas is confident that this year’s car is a step forward from last year. The Finnish driver finished last season in P15 with only 10 points, while his teammate finished the campaign in P18, with a total of 6 points. A lowly P9 in the Constructors’ Championship was all they could manage.

“I think we definitely should be able to get the car balanced, hopefully in all the tracks, and also ride-high and stuff, we should be in a better place, which means it’s down for us as well.  So yeah, good progress in that sense, I’m definitely much happier in the car now than I was this time last year.”