2015 F1 driver rankings #15: Felipe Nasr

2015 F1 season review

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Felipe Nasr

Beat team mate in qualifying 10/19
Beat team mate in race 8/14
Races finished 17/18
Laps spent ahead of team mate 494/930
Points 27
Felipe Nasr 2015 form guide

Felipe Nasr’s first season in F1 got off to a very promising start. On a difficult weekend for the Sauber team, lacking any prior knowledge of the circuit and having missed the first practice session, Nasr started inside the top ten and brought his car home in an excellent fifth place with Daniel Ricciardo breathing down his neck.

That set a high benchmark for the rest of the season, one he wasn’t able to equal as Sauber’s limited development meant their car became gradually less competitive. But Nasr continued to plug away and demonstrated his improvisational skills again in Russia where he took his second-best result of the season – sixth place – by running a long stint on super-soft tyres despite not having used them in practice.

Nasr was plainly frustrated at times by the lack of progress the team made with their car and was frustrated further by recurring braking problems, notably in Canada, Austria and Mexico. There were a few unfortunate errors as well – a high-speed crash in Canada which occurred when he triggered his DRS, and a collision with team mate Marcus Ericsson at the Circuit of the Americas which ruined his race.

By the final races of the season Sauber often only had the McLaren drivers for company and points were increasingly rare, making the haul Nasr had scored for the team at the beginning of the season all the more valuable.

A consistent finisher and marginally quicker than his more experienced team mate over the year, Nasr gets the nod from the two Sauber drivers, but there is clearly room for improvement when he returns next year.

View race-by-race notes on Felipe Nasr

Australia – Given that he hadn’t driven around the Albert Park circuit before, that Sauber don’t have a simulator for him to use and the team didn’t run in first practice, Nasr did a first-rate job to get his car into Q3 and bring it home in fifth place. He navigated the turn one trouble spot well and withstood race-long pressure from Ricciardo.

Malaysia – Never looked happy with his car’s set-up all weekend, though missing the first practice session while Raffaele Marciello drove didn’t help. Damaged his front wing in contact with Raikkonen at the end of lap one and so made the first of four pit stops on lap two. He did set the fourth-fastest lap of the race, however.

China – Performed well in qualifying to secure his best grid slot of the season so far with ninth. Passed by Verstappen in the first stint and then struggled to catch the Toro Rosso back in the final section of the race. Gained eighth from Verstappen after the Toro Rosso stopped, but will likely be satisfied with his afternoon’s work.

Bahrain – Qualified ahead of Ericsson but fell behind him at the start. A problem with his power unit meant he was out-gunned on the straights, and he finished the race stuck behind Alonso’s McLaren.

Spain – Blamed the Sauber’s lack of downforce for an inability to get the most from either the medium or the hard tyre, and said his finishing position of 12th was the best his car was capable of.

Monaco – Having also gone out in Q1, Nasr did well to salvage points in a car which plainly lacks downforce and development.

Canada – A nasty-looking crash in final practice was blamed on Nasr hitting the DRS button while he was weaving to warm his tyres up. Mercifully only his pride and car were damaged. Suffered a lack of power from the start of the race and had to cope with overheating brakes as well.

Austria – Fifth-quickest in first practice and was satisfied to reach Q3, although he was another driver who was hampered by the yellow flags Mercedes caused. Might have been able to hang on for the final point had his brakes not overheated – a problem which delayed him in Canada as well.

Britain – Didn’t get his tyres in the right temperature range in Q1 and was eliminated. A gearbox fault on his reconnaissance lap meant he was a non-starter.

Hungary – Struggled with overheating tyres in qualifying and lined up 19th. An anonymous weekend continued into the race, where he complained of being stuck in traffic and was 11th behind Ericsson at the flag.

Belgium – Looked quick in practice but was knocked out in Q3. Not for the first time this year he had braking problems in the race, and a slow puncture in the final stint delayed him further.

Italy – Picked up a puncture in the first-corner melee which dropped him out of contention for points.

Singapore – Didn’t expect to go out in Q1 but admitted he is still struggling to get the most out of the super-soft rubber. He made a conventional two-stop strategy work in the race to claim the final point.

Japan – Qualified within a tenth of his team mate but pulled into the pits shortly before the end with an unspecified problem having fallen to 17th place.

Russia – His and Sauber’s best result since Australia was assured even before Raikkonen’s penalty promoted him to sixth. Nasr qualified particularly well, taking 12th on the grid after reaching Q2, and in the race he ran the longest opening stint of anyone on super-soft tyres despite not having used them during practice.

United States – Both Sauber drivers had a lot of work to do at an unfamiliar circuit, but despite taking points for ninth Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was unhappy after Nasr hit Ericsson on lap one. “It is not an excuse that one driver did not know the track before and we were not able to run many laps here,” she said.

Mexico – Struggled with the low-grip surface and failed to progress beyond Q1. He wasn’t able to keep on top of his brake problem in the race and when the Safety Car came out they soon cried enough.

Brazil – Didn’t look capable of making the cut for the top ten but qualified a strong 11th before picking up a penalty for impeding Massa. With few retirements, points never looked likely, though he battled convincingly with Grosjean in the opening laps and got a big cheer for his pass on Button.

Abu Dhabi – Picked up front wing damage in the contact with Alonso which forced an early pit stop and left him on the back foot strategically.

Over to you

I had almost forgotten he was in F1 after Australia to be honest but he has performed well.

What’s your verdict on Felipe Nasr’s 2015 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “2015 F1 driver rankings #15: Felipe Nasr”

  1. Felipe Nasr. A jear before he got the chance a lot of people were getting high hopes to see what he could do in F1. But after this year, he comes off as almost the same disappointment Guttierez proved to be.

    I guess he did a decent job in a not too great car and low on resources team. But then Lotus were struggling as well, Force India doesn’t have that much bigger a budget either, and there were just too many costly mistakes. Lets hope that he picks up next year, although for now his biggest positive to the team is with the money brought in by him.

    1. @bascb Sorry I disagree 100% with your comment. Nasr did as good a job as you could expect from a rookie in a team strapped of cash and with virtually no in season development. He beat his more experienced team-mate for one. Two, his racecraft and qualifying was nowhere near as rubbish as Guti’s was. Guti drove like a rookie even in his second season. Nasr made no more rookie errors than the lauded Verstappen did. Third there’s no comparison with Lotus. Even though the Enstone’s team’s money ran out by mid-season, Sauber’s ran out by the beginning, or by Spain at the latest. Secondly the Lotus car is a better car with a better engine than the Sauber anyway. Really I don’t get how he’s a disappointment. At worst, a qualified success by my book. For more we’ll have to watch the 2nd season which is a lot tougher than the first usually for rookies. Hopefully Sauber is compettitive for more than 5 races next year too(not holding my breath)

      1. Actually I think Gutierrez first season was a stronger showing than his second @montreal95. In his second year, as you mention the toughter year for a rookie, Guti seemed not to make any progres at all.

        And yes, Nasr beat Ericcson, but beating a driver most of us thought had not deserved a second year in the first place, well yeah, it doesn’t convince me yet. He is not bad, and even though his first race was a very sold start for a rookie, i didn’t see any race where he stood out for a great drive, a special quali lap or a good defence.

        1. @bascb Don’t know to me Guti’s first year was atrocious. He was a country mile off Hulk nearly everywhere. No speed and no consistency. Agree about the 2nd season

          As for standout races, there was Australia of course but also Monaco(14 on the grid half a second quicker than Ericsson, 9th in the race), China(p9 on the grid , p8 in the race), Austria(p9 on the grid nearly a second over team-mate, p11 in the race), Russia(p12 in qualy 0,6 sec faster than team-mate, p6 in the race), nearly getting the Sauber to Q3 in Brazil in front of many guys in faster cars like Sainz, Perez and Grosjean. So there were a few

          You can only compete with the tools you are given and against the team-mate and other rivals near your car’s level. The definition of disappointment is when someone fails to reach an expected level. but sometimes the aforementioned level is unreachable given the tools and it’s unreasonable to expect it

          1. I guess the fact that Guti was a rookie and was up against Hulk always made it a tough call for that first year @montreal95. The second year he completely failed to step up, and his teammate was Sutil. Then again, maybe if he had had a more challenging teammate he would have done that? I don’t really believe he would, but I guess we will see how he does against Grosjean next year.

            For Nasr, I feel he should have had a better balance against Ericsson. Its a bit of a shame that next year he won’t be up against a better driver.

  2. So this guy is Kimi beater?

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      10th December 2015, 16:45

      In 2015 – Yes! @jureo

      1. Begrudingly I have to agree.

        Then again All top 16 F1 drivers are really good, so hard to fault them… much. little faults are what makes the difference.

  3. One of those drivers in the field you just don’t care about unless you’re Brazillian…

    1. @xtwl Speak for yourself. I noticed him way before F1 when he was blindingly quick in F3. I really think he’s a great talent. And did as well as could be expected for a rookie in a Sauber too

      1. @montreal95 His GP2 story is pretty sad and doesn’t show this ‘blindingly quick’ you’re talking about. If it wasn’t for some serious backing he would not be on the gird…

        1. @xtwl Indeed he failed(relatively) in GP2. There were examples before of guys who were seriously fast in junior series, failed(again relaitively) in GP2/FR 3.5/F3000 yet still reached F1 because there were those who believed in their talent that it didn’t just disappear when they moved from F3 to GP2 and so gave them a go, with or without backing

          That’s not the point. I’m ok with you not rating Nasr. It’s a valid opinion even if I don’t agree with it. I’m definitely not ok with you saying “that’s my opinion, therefore it must be everybody else’s opinion too, except the patriotic Brazilians”. Not only it’s not a valid opinion it’s an illegitimate one in my view

  4. Winner of the Best Paydriver of the Year award. Not too bad.

    1. @hahostolze If he’s a pay driver then Hamilton is a pay driver too…

      1. @montreal95 He’s bringing a significant amount of money to the team, and not ‘bringing’ it through performance and appeal like Hamilton. There’s a chasm of a difference.

        1. @hahostolze Nope there isn’t. Mclaren had sponsored Hamilton’s junior career. Banco do Brasil sponsored Nasr’s. Hamilton had to perform to keep the sponsorship. Same with Nasr. Same with Perez and Telmex. Banco do Brasil sponsored him because he was considered a prodigious young Brazilian talent from a very young age. They aren’t owned by his family(like Chilton or Pic’s sponsors). As soon as Hamilton or Nasr or Perez would disappoint their sponsors they would’ve been dropped . Come to think of it, the Red Bull junior drivers are pay drivers too. Now that’s a nice thought!

          You must get someone to pay the big bucks on your behalf on every level if you’re to reach F1. What makes you a pay driver is if the sponsors are sponsoring you regardless of the talent level(or lack thereof) you display because there are some other reasons involved

          Hamilton’s sponsorship by Mclaren has stopped when he reached F1. Unfortunately Banco do Brasil has to keep sponsoring Nasr because a cash strapped team like Sauber cannot afford anything else or they would fold. If Wehrlein does get the Manor seat for 2016 it’ll be with Merc sponsorship. Pay driver!

          1. According to that definition, even Alonso is a pay driver with all that Santander backing following him everywhere. It’s just a convenient slur and has little to do with reality these days when every driver has to bring something substantial to the team in the line of commercial value as opposed to pure racing ability. Do you really think Hamilton would be at Mercedes were it not for the fact of his huge commercial appeal?

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      10th December 2015, 17:41

      Actually Perez is oftentimes considered a pay driver as well.

      1. @coldfly That is from 2011. Back then, Perez was in F1 largely on the basis of his Telmex sponsorship. He’s no longer a paydriver now, he’s there on merit.

  5. I kind of was supportive of the man when he was in GP2, he was aggressive and clean, but it took him to much time to win there: 3 seasons.

    I don’t consider him a pay-driver as he has won the Formula BMW Europe in 2009 and the British Formula 3 in 2011 (2nd at Macau that year). A podium in the 24 Hours of Daytona too is a good line in your curriculum vitae at 23 years-old.

    He started his rookie Formula 1 season with a bang, but the dog in the car carried weight. Next season is all-important for Nasr and Sauber.

  6. Mr. Ford Prefect
    10th December 2015, 23:09

    I was hoping a bit more of him. I do believe Nasr is more talented then some more recent GP2 champions, like Palmer and Leimer.

    But the very fact that Nasr did no dominate Marcus in qualy and race shows that Nasr does not have what it takes to go to the top of F1. He may hang there for a few more years, but he will never achieve something. Marcus doesn’t deserve to be in F1. And to have a 50/50 score against him in qualyfing is a disgrace to F1 any driver.

    1. Still achieved far more than what Sutil or Van der Garde would have in the same scenario.

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