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Joy and sorrow in midfield: Finally first points for Lotus

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Joy and sorrow among the survivors
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I n the second half of the Formula 1 field every dollar flipped over twice. World Cup points are not a guarantee of survival, but the stuff of hope that somehow things will continue. Three weeks before the start of the season, Lotus, Sauber and Force India went to Bernie Ecclestone to beg. The Formula 1 Zampano helped out with an advance of 10 million dollars each. In this way, short-term financing gaps could be bridged.

But the problem is not solved. Just pushed back a few months. All three need better cash flow. Via additional sponsors or more money from the Ecclestone fund. That depends on the World Cup placement. And that is measured by the World Cup points. For the survivors, the following applies: The early bird catches the worm. As long as McLaren-Honda, Red Bull-Renault or Toro Rosso-Renault are still suffering, points have to be added.

Lotus surprised itself

Sauber did the job best. After zero points in the previous year, after three races there are already 19 points in the books. In Shanghai, both drivers finished in the top ten for the second time after Melbourne. Felipe Nasr was trusted to do that. But Marcus Ericsson really blooms in the Brazilian slipstream. His lap times were always in the range of a tenth of his team mate.

The secret of Sauber: A car with simple but efficient aerodynamics, an improved rear axle and a Ferrari engine that is worlds better than the 2014 unit. The Sauber C34 is easy to understand, easy to set up and easy to drive. And he is one of the tire brushes. Exactly the right concept for inexperienced pilots.

Ideally, Lotus has the slightly faster package. It should have scored points in Australia and Malaysia, but it didn't. The clear rounds could hurt later. Just like Pastor Maldonado's blackouts. Seen in this way, Romain Grosjean's seventh place was a relief for the troubled team. 'It came as a bit of a surprise because Shanghai is not one of our preferred locations. The car doesn't like routes that put too much stress on the front tire,' beamed the Frenchman.

Points possible for Hülkenberg

Force India, like in Malaysia, came away empty-handed. You live from the 7 points of Australia. This time it could have been enough for one point, although NicoHülkenberg and Sergio Perez entered the race with little hope. 'The hard tire doesn't work at all on our car,' said Hülkenberg. That forced Perez into a three-stop strategy. Even so, the Mexican missed the top ten by just one place, or 2.941 seconds. 'After my last stop, Ericsson was a bit too far ahead. The three stops were right because I was always able to attack.' The Rhinelander fought his way up to 12th place in the starting lap and defended this sternly against Kvyat and Perez. 'I had the speed of the Sauber and Toro Rosso,' said Hülkenberg, annoyed about the missed opportunity. A gearbox failure ended his journey.

Force India's B version costs two million pounds

The next races won't be easier for the charity club. Because the financially better off competition is not stingy with technical upgrades, but you are limited yourself. Tenor: 'We don't have the money at the most important time. Exactly when the parts have to be produced.' Force India's B version alone will devour two million pounds in material costs.

All three will still bring technological innovations. Sauber completes the aero package with the new front wing in Bahrain. Lotus comes in Spain with a wider nose: 'For more stable downforce,' says operations manager Alan Permane. And Force India brings the hydromechanical suspension. 'This way we can set up the car faster and easier,' hopes technical director Andy Green. Hülkenberg: 'With the vote, there is still something left in the version.'

The completely redesigned VJM08 will not come before the Austrian GP. Maybe even a race later. The premiere is to take place on the two days of testing at the Red Bull Ring. If the wind tunnel data is correct, it will be a quantum leap. 'Hopefully not too late', says Hulkenberg.

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