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Bottas: Sauber's F1 pitstop issues may not be fixed until after China

Valtteri Bottas says Sauber’s pitstop issue is “unfortunately not still 100% fixed” and may not be sorted until after Formula 1’s returning Chinese Grand Prix later in April.

Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber F1 Team C44, comes in for a pit stop

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The Sauber squad has arrived at Suzuka for this weekend’s 2024 Japanese GP after pitstop issues have blighted each of its showings in the opening three rounds of the new season.

The problem concerns wheelnuts getting crossthreaded during changes, which meant the team made adjustments to its procedures for the Melbourne round last time out.

But a reoccurrence of the problem at Bottas’s first stop there meant it ran to nearly 30s and a successful second service for the Finn in Australia was then undermined by a wheelnut rolling across the pitlane and Sauber being fined €5000.

Sauber team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi had said ahead of the Suzuka race that the team had been working “day and night back at base in Hinwil to resolve our pitstop issues”, which Bottas explained meant “progress” on “modifications made to the procedure and some of the materials that we could [use]”.

“Some measures have been taken, but it’s not still 100% fixed unfortunately,” he replied when asked by Autosport if he was still expecting Sauber to face further pitstop issues at Suzuka.

“But, again, the chance of having an issue should be lower. Basically, it is an issue that we didn’t know it before the season that it would be an issue and it’s not a quick fix.

“But there is a 100% fix planned hopefully for China. Still not 100% sure. But here, extra measures have been taken on that.”

Bottas also said Sauber had “apologised, which is fair” for his delayed stop in Melbourne, which he felt cost a shot to score the team’s first points of 2024.

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“But we’re in this together,” he added. “I was disappointed, but the whole team was disappointed because these things shouldn’t happen.

“So, we’re definitely taking it seriously and it is a priority now to get that sorted.”

As the pitstop issues are set to continue being a concern for Sauber for at least the short-term, Bottas reckons it would be a confidence booster for the teams pit crew to have consistent services in Suzuka, even if that meant slower stops overall.

“For sure, I’ll be hoping for a clean weekend,” he explained.

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“Even if we don’t need to have the fastest pitstops but can be consistent this weekend – that would be important.

“But I think it will also be important for the pit crew to have clean stops. For the confidence and everything.

“So, let’s hope for that, but hopefully I don’t need to think about it too much.”

Bottas also outlined how the issue had arisen “only really in Bahrain” across the test and race events there given Sauber was getting to grips with new pit equipment it has produced for 2024.

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44, leaves his pit box after a stop

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44, leaves his pit box after a stop

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

He also intriguingly revealed a theory that the issues might be related to temperature changes.

“Even in the test, it wasn’t a big concern,” he explained. “But in the test we started to see some issues.

“But then Bahrain race it… I think it has something to do with the temperature effect as well.”

Watch: F1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix Preview - Everything You Need To Know

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