Zhou reverts to older-spec Sauber chassis for Spanish GP

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Sauber has taken the unusual step in Barcelona of reverting Zhou Guanyu to older-spec setting for his C44 chassis in a bid to mitigate the struggles encountered by the Chinese driver since Imola.

Since the beginning of this year’s F1 campaign, Zhou has faced a constant battle to elevate his performances, having failed to reach Q2 in qualifying at every round.

Neither Zhou nor his teammate Valtteri Bottas have managed to score a top-ten finish so far, and Sauber remains the only outfit that has yet to put a championship point on the board this season.

But Zhou’s plight has worsened recently. His Canadian Grand Prix weekend was marked by several off-track excursions as he struggled with his car’s handling, particularly in the track’s bumpy areas.

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The Swiss outfit has subsequently chosen to switch its driver’s chassis to its pre-Imola specifications, hoping the changes will see Zhou turn around his fortunes.

“I find the car is very stiff over the bumps,” Zhou said in Barcelona.

“So, I wasn’t able to push. For example, the mistake I did in FP3 in Montreal, that was just really bad. Suddenly you hit the bumps, the car is just spinning around.

“This is something that was let’s say strange or a little bit shocking. But we made a lot of changes now before this weekend in terms of just changing everything again to a different spec, to making sure I get the feeling like I had at least at the beginning of the year back.

“Because I feel completely different now to what I was able to do compared to before.

“So, I’m looking forward to this weekend because it’s a brand-new style, it’s a bit more like starting from scratch.

“I changed my chassis and changed quite a bit of parts [at Imola], and so we are changing everything back to what I had.”

When asked if Sauber had observed similar problems with Valtteri Bottas' car, Zhou replied: “The bumps I felt, and the way how the car responds, is a bit more extreme than what’s happening to his side of the garage.

“So, that’s why we made a decision to change. I think it’s the right call, and I’m really happy to get it done.

“Because it’s not easy for the team just to commit to that. But I think once we commit to that, hopefully it’s the right call. And it only can be made better.”

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