Sauber Gamble on Strategy

Sauber's Felipe Massa has hinted that his team have deliberately sacrificed qualifying speed for a heavy amount of race fuel, after he slipped down the order in final qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix

Sauber Gamble on Strategy

The Brazilian had set an encouraging 10th fastest time in first qualifying but lost two places in Sunday morning's final session to secure the 12th grid slot - four places ahead of his still struggling teammate Jacques Villeneuve.

And although part of the drop in order may have been as a result of a slight mistake towards the end of the lap, Massa claimed he was happy with his performance - especially considering the amount of fuel he was running.

"That was pretty much what I expected from second qualifying," he said. "It was always going to be asking a lot to stay in the top 10 with the strategy we have chosen, and I made a bit of a mistake at the end of the second sector although I don't think that actually made much difference overall.

"I'm still very optimistic for the race, and I think with the plan we have I can really fight hard this afternoon."

Last season Sauber chose fairly radical strategies for much of the season to try and capitalise on their lack of out-and-out qualifying pace. They would often run with one less fuel stop than their rivals - and they may choose to do the same thing at Sakhir this afternoon.

Villeneuve, who is still finding it difficult to get the most out of the Sauber C24, made his troubles evident when he claimed he was happy to have completed a lap without running off the track - as had happened in first qualifying.

"At least I didn't go off like yesterday, even though the car is more difficult to drive when there's more fuel in the tank, so that's a big improvement," he said. "Now I just want to concentrate on the race."

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