Analysis: Sauber Hit 200 in Bahrain

Sauber are heading to their 200th Grand Prix in Bahrain this weekend facing the prospect of a far-from-happy celebration - unless Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve can turn-around the team's so-far lacklustre start to the campaign

Analysis: Sauber Hit 200 in Bahrain

The double-century event in Bahrain sees Sauber travel to the third race of the campaign without any points for only the fourth time in their history.

Only in 1996, 1999 and 2000 have the Swiss team failed to score in the first two races of the season.

The form of the C24 this year has fallen below expectations, with Massa and Villeneuve struggling to get the most out of the car and find a set-up that allows them to get the best performance from their Michelin tyres.

Problems in pre-season testing have been cited by Villeneuve as one of the key reasons for the team's current lack of pace, but with the outfit not having tested since Malaysia there is little reason to believe that their pace will be dramatically improved in Sakhir.

In fact, the Bahrain event proved to be one of the team's least competitive outings last year - as Giancarlo Fisichella and Massa finished an unimpressive 11th and 12th overall.

Massa said: "Last year we hadn't fully sorted the C23 by that stage so the race was not one of our better ones, but I am optimistic that the C24, on Michelins, should suit the circuit well."

But despite the bleak outlook, Sauber will almost certainly be able to take heart from the fact that 12 months ago the team appeared to be in similar troubles. They headed to Bahrain with just a single point to their name, thanks to Massa's eighth place in Malaysia, and many believed the formbook had been set for the year.

Yet modifications introduced from Sauber's new wind-tunnel helped the team make a mini-comeback. Fisichella only managed to score his first points for the team in his fifth race, in Spain, yet by the middle of the year he had become a regular finisher in the top eight.

Team boss Peter Sauber will be hoping that at the very least history repeats itself in Barcelona so he can enjoy his own celebration.

Having missed two of his team's races (one in 2001 and another in 2004) because of sponsor negotiations and a shoulder operation, his 200th Grand Prix with the team comes at the Circuit de Catalunya.

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