Sauber F1 scrambles to solve continuous pit stop issues ahead of Australian GP; Bottas declares them a “wake-up call”

Photo Credit: Sauber
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Sauber F1 driver Zhou Guanyu found himself in pit lane mayhem at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. 

These issues echoed the problems at this season’s first race in Bahrain, where the team had a wheel nut nightmare with Valtteri Bottas’s car.

Bottas experienced a pit stop horror story that reminded the watchers-on of Monaco 20221 – it was a shocking 52.4-second pit stop, the second longest of his lengthy career, all due to a cross-threading wheel nut issue.

The disappointment was noticeable throughout the team, with Bottas acknowledging that Sauber F1’s lacklustre race pace and pit stop issues served as a much-needed “wake-up call”. They finished P17 and P18, the last two of the classified finishers.

“Obviously, it’s only race two out of 24 and we have things coming in the pipeline, but we definitely need to improve not just the pace but also operation, now we’ve had both drivers having big issues on pit stops in two races.

Zhou suffered from this same issue at last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with a 25-second-long stop. This took him out of the race completely regarding any kind of chance to fight with the pack behind Magnussen , and as the chequered flag waved on the race, the team found themselves at the back.

It’s a far cry from the points that they had their sights on. The Hinwill-based team are yet to score a single point in this year’s championship. 

Speaking after the race, Bottas claimed that the wheel nut problem is a “concern for sure” but noted that “of course in one week, we couldn’t change many things”, showing his optimism that the team will resolve the issues for the coming races. 

Zhou noted that the issue was “frustrating of course” and that they “need to improve, that’s clear” as “the race was basically gone after that.”

Despite these issues, the Chinese driver noted that “from my side, race craft, everything, is picking up massively compared to the last few years, which is good.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, the team representative, was quick to note that Sauber F1’s mechanics were not to blame and are working on addressing the problem. Instead, he claimed that the culprit appeared to be a recurring issue with the car.

“First of all, for me, it’s very important to say that was not the mistake of our mechanics or crew, they are doing a really good job,” he told

“We know that we have a problem.

“So, we have investigated, and we are working to fix this problem as soon as possible. And we are revising the parts in order to not have this problem again in the next races.

“For us it’s crucial now because we have had this problem in the last two races. So, we cannot afford to have an issue during the races, because the potential of the car is there to fight for the points.”

In hopes of increasing performance, the team had made changes to their pit stop procedures and equipment, hoping to save some precious time and to finish in the points. However, these changes created some unforeseen challenges.

Racing director, Xevi Pujolar, echoed these statements, emphasising the urgency of addressing the pit stop problems before the next race in Australia. 

“I think it’s clear that still we’re not where we want to be.

“We need to do some further changes for Melbourne. Because we are too fragile, I would say.

“It’s nothing wrong with the crew, with mechanics, they are doing I would say a reasonable job. But we had a problem again. So, we just need to now investigate and try to come up with some containment for the next race, just to be more robust.”

As the clock ticks down to the Australian Grand Prix, Stake F1 is fighting the clock to secure some points-scoring opportunities and work their way up the midfield.