E s is a story like she can only write Formula 1. Before the Brazilian GP, Sauber was in 11th place in the constructors' standings. With Marcus Ericsson's 11th place in Mexico, the only chance to oust the direct competitor Manor from the top ten seemed to have been missed. There was also tension with Felipe Nasr. The Brazilian wanted to leave, dreamed of Force India and Renault, and ended up losing out in transfer poker.
Now his place at Sauber is also in danger. Pascal Wehrlein is at the door. The training result did not improve the mood either. The two Sauber were at the very back of the starting grid with the slowest lap times. Esteban Ocon only slid to the back of the field because of a penalty.
But then the rain came. And with it hope. Nasr had prayed, “I knew I could do it in the rain. And it was my dream to score points in my home race. It was our chance and we grabbed it with both hands. The exit lap was really special. The fans in the stands celebrated me. I think I'll only realize what's going on in a few days. ”
The battle for the placement money
After 71 laps, the blue-yellow Sauber with start number 12 came in 9th. Waved off place. '71 laps? For me the race lasted what felt like 200 laps, ”said Nasr with a sigh of relief. For Sauber and Nasr, the 2 championship points counted like a victory. In doing so, the Swiss racing team pushed their direct opponent Manor out of the top ten of the constructors' standings.
And Nasr rehabilitated himself. His reputation had suffered a bit after team-mate Marcus Ericsson was mostly faster lately. The Swede lost his car to aquaplaning on lap 12 and fired it into the wall. Rain is not his element. Nasr, on the other hand, is like most Brazilians a rain specialist.
For Sauber, 10th place in the constructors' championship is not just a matter of honor. This is also about money. A lot of money. The payments from Bernie Ecclestone's till come from two sources. Pillar 1 money is paid to everyone who has made it into the top ten at least twice in the past 3 years. Because of the record earnings in 2016, that's at least $ 35 million. Sauber and Manor meet this requirement in every constellation. Sauber was tenth in 2014 and eighth in 2015. Manor was 9th in 2014 and 10th in 2014
Placement money is only given for the first 10 places in the overall ranking. Finishing 10th in 2015 paid out $ 13.5 million that season. It is assumed that this sum will increase to 15 million in 2016. For teams like Sauber and Manor, money that you don't want to do without. That is why the race for 10th place is almost as exciting as the title duel.
Nasr remote-controlled for championship points
During the 71 laps of the Brazilian GP, the situation changed two cellar children almost in lap rhythm. Felipe Nasr appeared in the points for the first time in the 10th round. But at the first break, the Manor drivers Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein were also in the top ten. Then the big arithmetic began. Because there would only have been full points if it had been aborted in lap 55 and Ricciardo also interfered with his 5-second penalty, clean was 10th place, then Manor again.
For Sauber team manager Beat Zehnder only had one fixed point in the battle of nerves: “We focused our entire race on Manor. When Felipe ran out of tires on the last lap and the Red Bull came flying in from behind, we told him that he didn't have to worry about them. It was just important to stay in front of Ocon. And to keep the car on the track. ”
Nasr scored points with the Hamilton tactic. Like the winner, the Brazilian stayed on wet tires for the entire race. And he only exchanged them during the breaks in the race. “In the end, the rear tires were completely over. The traction got worse and worse, the chance of aquaplaning bigger and bigger, 'reports Nasr.
' I always positioned my car so that I could accelerate even in the least wet places. The team gave me the best lines over the radio and always kept me informed of where the manors were. That was real teamwork today. But I was only released when I saw the checkered flag. ”
The worse the conditions, the better Nasr drove
According to Zehnder, switching to intermediates was never an issue. “We kept checking the times of the competition, but this tire was not 3 or 4 seconds faster at any stage of the race. Even in the driest phases it only worked better in the first sector and was worse in the second. It was a draw in the third. ”
The tactic of always staying on rain tires was what made Nasr one of the points at the moment when 9 drivers began to play poker with intermediates. But then the amazing thing happened. Nasr took a firm hold and at times even defended himself against Ferrari, Force India and McLaren.
'The worse the conditions, the easier it was for me to maintain my place,' said the driver. Zehnder adds: “The view on the straights was sometimes so poor that even drivers in significantly faster cars could not overtake. It wasIt quickly became clear that the position on the track was more important than anything else that day. That's why we never changed tires. '
Nasr admitted:' The race was mentally incredibly demanding. Especially at the restart when the tires and brakes were still cold. Sometimes I braked harder than necessary to bring temperature to the brakes. I kept saying to myself: stay on the track. '
' I was reassured that we had the speed to defend our position against the Manor, Renault and the Williams. The race shouldn't have lasted 2 laps longer. Otherwise Alonso would have gotten me. ”It was more relaxed at the Sauber command post. A 10th place would have been enough to overtake Manor.