Sauber’s F1 pitstop woes will take time to fix, warn Zhou and Bottas

Photo Credit: Sauber
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After botched pit stops in all three races thus far in 2024, there is some hope from Sauber to improve them before the Chinese Grand Prix. According to Alessandro Alunni Bravi the team in Hinwill has been working around the clock to try and find a resolution to the issues, which are rooted in the new pit equipment Sauber has produced for this season.

Both drivers said that the current measures taken should improve the stops during this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, but a final resolution is still not implemented, as Zhou Guanyu highlighted.

“It’s clear that [the pit stops] is where we lost ground, where we lost all the race, basically,” the Chinese driver said. “So we are doing further adjustments, but I think like many of us already spoke, let’s say the conclusion for this weekend is not going to be the final one.

“Unfortunately, the whole issue will be hopefully perfectly solved, more, you know, a few more races to go after that.”

He was backed by his Finnish teammate.

“Some measures have been taken, but it’s not still 100% fixed unfortunately,” Valtteri Bottas explains. “But, again, the chance of having an issue should be lower. Basically, it is an issue that we didn’t know before the season that it would be an issue and it’s not a quick fix.

“But there is a 100% fix planned hopefully for China. Still not 100% sure. But here, extra measures have been taken on that.”

Photo Credit: Sauber

The former Mercedes- and Williams-driver received an apology for his 30-second pitstop from the team, but he remained a team player, stating that eventually everyone felt the disappointment of the missed opportunity.

“We’re in this together. I was disappointed, but the whole team was disappointed because these things shouldn’t happen.

“So, we’re definitely taking it seriously and it is a priority now to get that sorted.”

Having still not scored any points this season, which leaves him second-to-last in the standings, the part-time calendar model feels it is more important to perform the pit stops correctly rather than performing them fast.

“For sure, I’ll be hoping for a clean weekend. Even if we don’t need to have the fastest pitstops but can be consistent this weekend, that would be important.

“But I think it will also be important for the pit crew to have clean stops. For the confidence and everything. So, let’s hope for that, but hopefully I don’t need to think about it too much.”

The problem with the crossthreading of the wheelnuts started to arise during the latter stages of the winter tests, but only fully came to light during the Bahrain Grand Prix the week after. This prompted Bottas to pose the hypothesis that the issue might be temperature related.

“Even in the test, it wasn’t a big concern, but in the test we started to see some issues. But then Bahrain race it… I think it has something to do with the temperature effect as well.”