Team mates Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson are currently under the pump by the Sauber F1 Team after a collision at Rascasse on lap 47 of the Monaco Grand Prix put both drivers out of the race. Marcus Ericsson’s rash move came just a couple of laps after team mate Felipe Nasr ahead was given a team order to let the former through.
Sauber at the time were only scrapping over 15th place and didn’t have points to gain. It started with Felipe Nasr being asked “from the top” to move over and let Marcus Ericsson through because the team believed the latter was much faster. Nasr was instructed to let him through at Turn 1.
Laps later the Sauber drivers still hadn’t swapped and a frustrated Marcus Ericsson tried an audacious move at the penultimate corner of the circuit – Rascasse. Despite being a place you can generally overtake on the circuit – there just wasn’t enough room. “Suddenly, in Rascasse I felt my car being hit” said Nasr.
It was quite clear from replays that the move was the fault of Ericsson and he was post race given a 5 place grid drop for the next round in Canada “I saw a gap and tried to overtake him, but we all saw what then happened.” he said. However if Nasr had followed the team order it wouldn’t have happened – leaving them both partially at fault. Team Principal, Monisha Kaltenborn shared that opinion saying: “It was unacceptable behavior by both drivers”
Both did apologize after the race with Marcus Ericsson saying: “It is even more important to stick together as a team in these times. I apologize, and I am sure that this will not happen again in the future.” Felipe Nasr also echoed the words of Ericsson saying: “I apologize for what happened. We need to make that this will never happen again”
Monisha Kaltenborn also explained the reason for asking Nasr to move over in the first place saying: “After evaluating the overall situation it was important to bring the fastest car as far as possible to the front, so that we were able to use any chances. Our decision was based on the data from both cars.”
The situation is made worse for Sauber considering that they are already struggling financially in 2016. Many thought earlier in the season that the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix would be their last before receiving late sponsorship from an online Asian gaming website. They continue to limp through the season, holding 10th in the Constructors Championship.
However there doesn’t appear to be any notable tension between the drivers and the team have “clarified the situation internally and both drivers are aware of their responsibilities. Such an incident will not happen again.” It will be interesting to see how the Sauber drivers approach the Canadian Grand Prix on the 12th of June – Like Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, or like Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.