F1 News: These drivers starting from the pit lane at Canadian Grand historically important Prix

The two drivers start from the back of the pack after changes in parc ferme.
Jun 7, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Stake driver Valtteri Bottas (FIN) races during FP1 practice session of the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 7, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Stake driver Valtteri Bottas (FIN) races during FP1 practice session of the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports / David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

At the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, both Sauber team drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, faced significant setbacks during Saturday's qualifying session. While Bottas managed a 17th place finish, missing Q2 by a narrow margin, Zhou experienced more severe difficulties—limited track time in FP1 and a crash in FP3 severely compromised his performance, landing him in 20th place on the grid.

In an attempt to rebound from these challenging qualifying positions and in anticipation of mixed weather conditions, the Sauber team opted to make substantive changes to their cars during the parc fermé period. This included reverting both drivers’ vehicles to an older rear wing specification. As a result of these modifications, Bottas and Zhou are slated to start the race from the pit lane.

The decision to switch back to a previous aerodynamic setup came after the new wing—designed specifically for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's unique characteristics with its reduced flaps and altered main plane for less drag—did not perform as expected.

Further complicating matters, Bottas’ car underwent additional technical updates including the installation of a third energy store and a third set of control electronics, exceeding the FIA’s allowable component usage and incurring a grid penalty, which was ultimately overridden by the pit lane start decision.

Sauber team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi openly addressed the team’s struggles via Autosport. "Qualifying confirms that we are lacking performance in the single lap." He added, "We have already seen in the last races that our main competitors took a step forward, pushing us to the bottom of the midfield in terms of qualifying pace."

Despite these challenges, Bravi remains hopeful about race day performance, emphasizing past demonstrations of stronger race pace: "The race will be once again difficult for us, and we must maximize every opportunity that may arise," Bravi noted. "We have previously shown that we can deliver a better race pace, but we can’t hide the fact that it’s another difficult weekend for us. Still, we’ll do our best to improve our position.”


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Alex Harrington

ALEX HARRINGTON

Alex is the editor-in-chief of F1 editorial. He fell in love with F1 at the young age of 7 after hearing the scream of naturally aspirated V10s echo through his grandparents' lounge. That year he watched as Michael Schumacher took home his fifth championship win with Ferrari, and has been unable to look away since.