November 15th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Sauber drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg had plenty to be happy about after Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix. Esteban Gutierrez set the sixth fastest lap time, ahead of seventh-placed Hulkenberg, in the second Friday practice session.
Sauber are 22 points behind Force India in the Constructors' Championship, and while that might be quite a large gap for a midfield team to close in just two races, it's clear that Sauber are pushing to move one place up in the standings by the end of next week's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
At the Circuit of the Americas today, the Saubers were quick enough to split the Lotus pair of Heikki Kovalainen and Romain Grosjean. Both Sauber drivers were within a second of the pace set by Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.
While it's by no means guaranteed that Sauber will continue to feature so close to the front this weekend, they have certainly got off to a strong start and will be looking to build on a positive base as they go into Saturday's final practice session and then qualifying.
This is what the drivers had to say after Friday practice:
Nico Hülkenberg: “It was quite a good day. This morning was a bit of a funny situation with the fog delaying FP1. Once the session started everything went well and we managed to get through the programme we had planned. The car was ok and the performance is looking good too. However, I think there is still room for improvement, but I’m not happy with the balance on the medium tyres yet. It will be tight tomorrow, but I think we can improve.”
Esteban Gutiérrez: “It was a very productive day. Although the delay wasn’t ideal, I feel comfortable with the track and enjoy driving here. This is important. We are in a good shape, but now we need to focus on maintaining it for qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday. I think we have very good chances for a good result here. There are two more races to go and my goal is to get the maximum out of what we have.”