For the first time this weekend, the teeth being bared in the Sauber hospitality unit or garages at Albert Park weren’t gritted.

The Swiss outfit was finally able to put some of this week’s pre-race drama behind it thanks to an excellent qualifying performance from rookie driver Felipe Nasr, who will start his first Grand Prix from eleventh place. The former Williams reserve driver believes that he is a realistic shot at claiming the team’s first points’ finish in over a year.

“As a team we can be happy that we nearly made it into Q3. All in all I am satisfied with the result and I am looking forward to the race. Tomorrow is an important day with it being my first ever Formula One race, and we are going to push for points,” he beamed after qualifying.

Contrastingly, teammate Marcus Ericsson qualified 16th-fastest after struggling to get consistency with his brakes around the 5.3-kilometre circuit.

“It was a disappointing session for me being P16, and we cannot be satisfied with this result. I had quite a good feeling in the car yesterday, but today I have been struggling to feel confident, especially in the braking zones. We need to analyse the data tonight to see what we have changed from yesterday, so that we can learn from that and fight back during the race.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber F1 Team Principal

Monisha Kaltenborn

Having spent much of her Australian Grand Prix build-up dealing with lawyers handling the team’s court battle with former driver Giedo van der Garde and dodging the media interest over her future at the helm of the team, team boss Monisha Kaltenborn was finally able to take in the team’s progress from the pit gantry.

“It was a strong first qualifying for the team. We are pleased to confirm the positive impression from the winter tests,” she smiled afterwards.

“It is also nice to see the car further in front, which gives the team additional motivation. We are going into the race with good prospects for a positive result.”

Images via XPB Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.