Ahead of the 2016 Australian Grand Prix, the Sauber drivers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson visited the Melbourne Zoo to try and mingle with the lions, as well as feed and take selfie’s with the kangaroos. 

We took the opportunity to catch up with Felipe Nasr following our chat with him at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year, where he gave us his insights into Sauber’s pre-season test as well as the development of the new C35.

How was your off-season?

Oh it was good, back home in Brazil I did a lot of preparation and a lot of physical stuff, a lot of training. I was able to follow closely the C35 because I was going back and forth to the factory in Switzerland. It’s still early days and there’s a lot to be done yet, but yeah the whole preparation I had was pretty good.Nasr

Did you have enough time to test the C35? What progress has been made between the C34 and the C35?

Progress was made, but I still think we needed more time to understand the car completely and to have it 100% to where we would like it to be. We got the car one week later than everybody else, but nevertheless I think we got out of testing with a good baseline and a good understanding. We’re going to see the car develop for sure in the early races, but the first race always means opportunity, so we just got to be ready for it.

The big talking point surrounding Sauber is Mark Smith leaving the team, how much does that hinder preparations ahead of the first race of the season?

Well Mark was obviously involved on the C35 project, he was leading that and he was the main person involved on the project, so it’s a shame to see him leave for the reasons he has. For sure it’s something that is needed to have within a racing team – a technical director – so I’m sure they’ll be figuring that out soon. But the most important thing I can say is that the car is here, the team is here, we’re going to be racing and that’s what matters in the end.

Does your approach to this weekend change much due to the new qualifying and free tyre choices?

Well, it is a new format of qualifying so it’s going to be a lot more intense for the drivers and for the teams. How prepared is everyone for that? I don’t know. That’s why I always say the chances are here, and if you are able to take them it means you have a chance to run to the points. But also from the start it’s a lot more down to the drivers now with the clutch procedures and the radio communication being much more reduced, so there’s a lot of surprises coming this weekend and we might have good ones or bad ones, but I hope we are taking the right chances.

Images via George Hitchens Photography

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Josh Kruse

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