Kick Sauber hoping Monaco was ‘an outlier’ as they leave race as the only team yet to score in 2024

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber and Zhou

It proved to be a challenging weekend at the Monaco Grand Prix for Kick Sauber, with the team now the only outfit on the grid yet to score a point in 2024 as their struggles to get off the mark continue.

Having lined up near the back of the field in P17 and P18, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu looked to have their work cut out in terms of trying to make progress through the pack. For Bottas, the team tried a different strategy by pitting him after the race restart for fresh tyres.

READ MORE: Leclerc clinches long-awaited home win in Monaco ahead of Piastri and Sainz after early drama

While this helped him to set some early fastest laps – before pulling off some overtakes later in the event – the Finn could finish no higher than 13th place, having spent quite a portion of the race stuck in a train of cars behind Fernando Alonso.

“We tried to take the opportunities,” Bottas explained after the event. “[I] wasn’t so lucky with the starting [hard] compound because of the red flag, so I think everyone who started on the softer compound got a bigger benefit from that.

“We still tried for everything we could, but it was all aboard the Alonso train, which wasn’t that fun in the end – it was pretty slow! But what can you do?”

‘It was all aboard the Alonso train’ – Bottas talks us through his frustrating Monaco GP

With the streets of Monte Carlo posing a unique challenge, Bottas is hopeful that the squad can enjoy better outings at other circuits. However, he acknowledges that they need to investigate their struggles with one-lap pace in particular.

“The qualifying was tough, [we were] lacking pace, so [that’s] something we really need to understand,” the 10-time race winner said. “At least normally Monaco is a bit of an outlier, so it doesn’t tell the full story. But lots to learn from this weekend, especially about qualifying.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive all the race action as Leclerc wins at home following a chaotic start in Monaco

Zhou also faced a tough day, which started by having a close view of the heavy collision between Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg on the first lap of the race, an incident that all three fortunately emerged unharmed from.

After making a late pit stop, the Chinese driver went on to end the race in 16th and last place.

“That was a pretty sketchy moment for these three [drivers],” Zhou commented about the Lap 1 crash. “I’m glad they are okay. From my side it was a very boring race, to be honest.

“I think we had a pretty good strategy until the red flag and then everybody is in the same boat, and there’s no potential to be overtaking. We tried to go to the end, and the tyre was dead for me unfortunately with 15 laps to go, so we had to commit to another stop.”

‘That was a pretty sketchy moment’ – Zhou had front row seat for Lap 1 crash

Like Bottas, Zhou reckons that Kick Sauber have some key areas for improvement going forwards after what proved to be one of their most difficult weekends of the campaign so far, with the next event on the calendar being the Canadian Grand Prix from June 7-9.

“It’s definitely one of the toughest [it’s] ever been, in terms of just lack of pace in general,” the 24-year-old added. “Monaco is all about confidence and this weekend I’ve been searching for that, and didn’t really have [much].

“The race craft looks better, we still just need to work on it. We’re still lacking on pace against the guys around us, so we need to keep working on it.

READ MORE: Perez, Magnussen and Hulkenberg share contrasting views on start pile-up in Monaco

“I’m sure Montreal is a different circumstance, it’s a track a bit more usual, but it’s true that we need just to step up a little bit and find a few tenths, because we are missing quite a bit.”

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Zhou Guanyu of China driving the (24) Kick Sauber C44 Ferrari makes a

They may have been off the pace, but there was at least a marked improvement in Sauber's pit stop game in Monaco

While it was a challenging few days for the squad in Monte Carlo, Team Representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi was pleased to see the step up in the outfit’s pit stops, having experienced some issues in this area earlier in the season.

However, he is also clear that they need to continue to improve all-round in order to start battling for points.

“On a positive note: all three of our pit stops today have been our fastest during the entire season so far,” said Alunni Bravi. “They were fast and consistent – something important as it shows that we can react and improve.

“Our most important target for the upcoming races is to improve in each and every area to bring us back into the fight for points.”

READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from Monaco – Leclerc hit the jackpot, but who else played their cards right in Monte Carlo?


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