2016 F1 season driver rankings #20: Nasr

2016 F1 season review

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At his home race in Brazil, Felipe Nasr kept his cool in atrocious conditions and delivered a crucial ninth place for Sauber in what he called “one of my best races”.

Felipe Nasr

Beat team mate in qualifying7/19
Beat team mate in race4/12
Races finished17/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate379/995

It was the highlight of a year which had few other stand-out moments. Nasr’s second season in F1 had been rather indifferent until that point.

It got off to an unsatisfactory start as Nasr complained about problems with his car balance in the opening three races. A change of chassis for the next round appeared to cure the problem: He out-qualified Marcus Ericsson for the first time, though his race was spoiled by a puncture.

He hit a purple patch at mid-season while Ericsson had a few poor weekends approaching the summer break. Technical problems in Germany and Belgium and a conspicuously silly collision with Jolyon Palmer in Italy kept team and driver waiting for that breakthrough point.

Relations with his team mate degenerated, too. At Monaco Nasr was unwilling to obey an instruction to wave Ericsson by, not unreasonably given that he was also in traffic. The pair ended up colliding. In Mexico he was again asked to let Ericsson through and this time complied, albeit grudgingly.

Over the final third of the season Ericsson was clearly the quicker driver one more. Nasr deserves credit for making the most of the chance he had in Brazil, but it wasn’t enough to keep his season from being a disappointment.

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Over to you

Massively underperformed but showed what he can do in his home race.
Robert (@Rob91)

What’s your verdict on Felipe Nasr’s 2016 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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View race-by-race notes on Felipe Nasr

Australia – Half a second off Ericsson in qualifying, Nasr spent much of the race near the back and was passed by Button shortly before the end. “I think we have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said after the race.

Bahrain – The first driver to drop out in qualifying, Nasr was very unhappy with the balance of his Sauber. After a strong start he kept Ericsson behind to begin with but dropped behind his team mate before the end.

China – Picked up damage in the first corner incident which compromised his race, but he was pessimistic about reaching the points anyway. “I am still struggling with the same issues that I’ve been having in the last couple of events,” he admitted.

Russia – With a new chassis underneath him Nasr immediately looked more at home and bat Ericsson by half a second in qualifying. However a puncture during the first stint spoiled his run and a five-second penalty for failing to obey the turn two run-off area rules while battling Wehrlein was unnecessary.

Spain – Oversteer confined him to 20th in qualifying with only the Manors behind him. Felt a two-stop strategy meant he spent too long on the medium tyres. But though he lost a place to Magnussen on the final lap the Renault driver’s post-race penalty gifted it back.

Monaco – Having been unable to set a time in qualifying due to an engine failure, Nasr got onto his team mate’s tail during the second stint and moved ahead by waiting longer to switch to slick tyres. The pair were running close together but closing on Wehrlein and Grosjean, which explains Nasr’s unwillingness to let his team mate past. He was then turfed off at Rascasse by Ericsson.

Canada – Like his team mate he missed some running in first practice due to technical trouble, but there was no explanation for why he ended up a second off Ericsson in qualifying. In the race he was tipped into a spin at the start but having finished the first lap six seconds behind his team mate he lost over half a minute by the chequered flag.

Europe – Got the most out of his car in qualifying and took advantage of Button’s problems to reach Q2. Like Ericsson he had to pit twice but his pace was better and he got past Magnussen’s Renault for 12th.

Austria – Unlike his team mate Nasr did cop a penalty, and lined up last. However he produced one of Sauber’s most convincing performances so far this year, starting on softs and rising to seventh at one point after the Safety Car period. His tyre change eventually dropped him out of points contention, however.

Britain – Felt his car’s balance changed significantly in qualifying and ended up at the back. He stayed out of trouble in a treacherous race and even passed Bottas at one point, but points seemed impossible for Sauber.

Hungary – Nasr got his car into Q2 and showed Sauber were capable of managing a normal tyre strategy in the race. But the under-developed C35 was always going to struggle at a circuit where downforce is at a premium. Finishing two seconds behind Magnussen was a respectable effort.

Germany – Joined his team mate on the back row and took advantage of other cars holding each other up at turn one to grab 16th place. However Sauber brought him in for an early first pit stop which proved very slow, and after another slow stop he retired with a loss of power.

Belgium – Was close to making it into Q2 but his rear tyres faded at the end of the lap and he missed the cut. He picked up a puncture from debris on the first lap and although he was able to continue a damaged floor prevented him from taking any serious part in the action.

Italy – A loss of power at Lesmo compromised Nasr’s final run in Q1. He missed the cut for Q2 but still lined up ahead of his team mate. After a decent start his lap two collision with Palmer was entirely unnecessary – even the GP2 drivers had shown it was possible to go side-by-side through the Rettiflio, so what excuse did Nasr have?

Singapore – Having been pleased with his car’s performance in practice he was dismayed to struggle in qualifying with poor rear grip and difficulty getting the temperatures right. However his two-stop strategy proved the better option in the race, and he brought his car home 13th. Between the contrasting performances of the two Sauber drivers on Saturday and Sunday it’s not hard to believe a points finish was possible here.

Japan – A substantial lock-up near the end of his first stint forced him into the pits earlier than planned and meant he finished off the back of the lower-midfield pack his team mate was in.

Malaysia – Was another of the drivers who lost time going around Rosberg’s Mercedes at the first corner. His retirement was officially blamed on the brake-by-wire system, though some claimed a Ferrari power unit failure was in fact to blame.

United States – Having been happy with the car on Friday Nasr was displeased at his qualifying effort which left him on the back row of the grid. He tangled with Ocon early on, who was the only other driver to start on softs, but Nasr kept his going long enough to only make one further pit stop. That made his second half of the race on soft tyres more interesting and though he pitted too early to benefit from the VSC he ended up behind his team mate.

Mexico – A front wing failure in first practice put him on the back foot and despite using the same set-up as Ericsson in qualifying he couldn’t make it out of Q1. He was the only driver to start on the medium tyres which he stuck with for most of the race before switching to super-softs. He reluctantly obeyed Sauber’s instruction to let Ericsson through but finished half a minute behind his team mate.

Brazil – Blamed traffic and a misfire for a lap which left him last on the grid until Ocon was penalised. Another driver who steered clear of the intermediates, Nasr spent a significant chunk of the race in sixth place before Hulkenberg and the Red Bulls demoted him to ninth. He never lost sight of his goal, however, which was to beat Ocon and grab Sauber’s first points, which he achieved.

Abu Dhabi – Felt his car handled better in the heat of first practice which was not ideal with the competitive action taking place later in the day. A power unit surge during his qualifying lap confined him 19th. In the race he fell to the back after tangling with Ocon, and only finished in front of Palmer.

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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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25 comments on “2016 F1 season driver rankings #20: Nasr”

  1. I think Nasr have much more potential if he get a better car.

    1. I don’t, he shouldn’t have gotten into F1. When you have a junior category driver that fails to win the championship for DAMS, you have asserted one thing. Not F1 material. Put 2 on the same team, and you have lots of people congratulating a slow driver for a rather fantastic 5th position on debut.

      1. He raced for DAMS just in his first year as a rookie. The next 2 seasons he raced for Carlin, carrying the team to 2 consecutive vice-champioships, being the driver to score more points (and having Palmer in the first Carlin year). When he left Carlin they finished 9th. Do I need to say something more?

  2. For me, Nasr was the driver who disappointed most in 2016, especially after his excellent first half of 2015. The Monaco GP really was a low point, especially if you compare with the (identical and successful) overtake moves in the GP 2 race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXan4Nfz0u4 Even if the stewards surprisingly decided to penalise Ericsson, from comparison with GP 2 it’s clear where the blame lies and it cannot exactly have enhanced Nasr’s standing within the team. Then there were the complaints over the #2 chassis which later worked fine in the hands of Ericsson. I hope he gets the chance in 2017 to prove what he’s really capable of and not just written off by Sauber.

    1. It’s clear that it was Ericsson’s fault. Although it was silly for Nasr to not obey the radio, Ericsson was the one clumsily took both of them out.

      1. Look at the Youtube links! (Here’s the Nasr & Ericsson one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46y4xTo5QGM ) Compare the respect shown between the GP drivers and how blithely Nasr closes the door. There was room as proven by the GP drivers being overtaken, notorious for their reckless/”eager”/”optimistic” driving, on several occasions managed to avoid doing what Nasr did – close the door. Ericsson was clearly alongside *before* contact was made, thus the fault is Nasr’s in spite of what the race stewards managed to dream up afterwards.

      2. I do think that it was Ericsson’s fault, but Nasr seriously should have given him room and prevented that from happening. I recorded Monaco 2014 and what Bianchi did on Kobyashi at that very corner was pretty much identical. But Kobyashi, who didn’t even have to allow room did, and that allowed Bianchi through. When Martin Brundle was commentating that race, he said that 9 times out of 10, that will have ended in a crash. Bianchi was very lucky that Kobyashi gave him space. People then went mad about that being such an amazing overtake. Ericsson’s would have been just the same if his team mate had obeyed the team orders. It was Ericsson’s fault but I don’t think he should have got a penalty for it as his team mate had refused orders over the previous 10 laps to let Ericsson through.

        I used to think Nasr was better and he may possibly be better than he is now in a better car, but he would be last if i was to rate him as he’s been the most disappointing driver of the season. His one decent race was Brazil but I’d say that Ericsson’s race in Mexico was a fair bit more impressive than that and Ericsson has beaten him by a long way overall.

    2. I don’t know if Felipe is or will be above average. But I bet that in a good car he would beat Ericsson consistently. Drivers react different to different cars, see for example how Button defeated Alonso when their cars were much worse, and now with a better car Button had no chance. I’m not saying Nasr is Alonso, but he can do better for sure, he has more to show.

  3. Not impessive,but hopefully he will stay next year.F1 needs a Brazilian driver…

  4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    6th December 2016, 17:24

    The points in Brazil and his quali at Abu Dhabi saved Nasr this year.

    He probably can’t wait until January 1st so he can put 2016 behind him.

  5. I’ve been following Nasr since 2011, I still believe he has a lot of talent, but this year was poor. I hope he gets another year, his frankly brilliant drive in Brazil shows he can do the business when the opportunity’s there, unlike his team mate.

    1. Johnnie Röös
      6th December 2016, 20:59

      What do you mean unlike his teammate? Mexico was a superb race from Marcus and brazil was a fluke. Nasr was a dissapointment this year

  6. Just pure luck in Brazil.

    1. How finishing ahead of Wherlein and Ocon (both with the same strategy and a better car) is luck?

      1. Manor’s car is even worse than the Sauber. Beating Wherlein and Ocon is nothing to get exited about…
        Sauber has been beating both Manor cars more or less the whole season.

      2. Miane, when drivers who almost always finished ahead of Nasr this season such as Räikkönen, Massa, Grosjean, Palmer, Gutierrez and Ericsson, crash out and Nasr gets 9th, there’s a huge element of luck or chance involved. Had it been a race such as Mexico, he’d placed no better than 14th – 15th with that drive. That said he did hang on to a place worth, I believe, $10 million to the team, something for which he should receive due credit.

        1. There are 2 points here. First one is that they crashed, it’s not like a thunder had come out of the sky and hit them. They made mistakes and Nasr not, that’s a point. The second point is that most of these drivers was behind him when they crashed, at lap 38 Nasr was 7th with 18 cars still on the race. And after all that said, Manor had a better car than Sauber at that weekend, both of their drivers are much more highly rated than Nasr, they had the same strategies and are also “lucky” enough to no have crashed, and still they finished behind.

          I’m not saying here that he is spetacular, I don’t know if he is at least above average. But I really think he deserves a seat and a season with a better team.

  7. To me the highlight of his 3 year career with Sauber is still being flipped over by Maldonado in the 2014 Bahrain GP. And perhaps being passed on the outside in Blanchimont at Spa by Verstappen. So really it’s two highlights tbf.

    1. Pretty sure that was Gutierrez who got flipped over, Nasr wasn’t racing in 2014. So 1 highlight.

      1. ai…. you’re right… My bad. Now I’m doubting if it even was him who got passed by VES. It was him, right??

  8. That Sauber was awful. I can’t really blame him for a horrible season. Sauber seems to make a horrible car every other year….sort of like a Williams as well.

    1. yes, Sauber were pretty bad this year, but Nasr was beaten quite clearly by Ericsson who let’s face it, is not much of a driver also. I always thought that Ericsson is one of the least talented drivers in F1, but this year Nasr was even worse.

  9. I think Nasr was pretty poor this year. The difference between him being ranked at #22 (below Guttierez and Kvyat) and #20 was just because of one race weekend. The rest of the season he was outclassed by a teammate who is pretty unimpressive himself.

  10. I really am unsure about Nasr. He had a solid start last year, but as the season went on I actually was more impressed by Ericcson. This year, apart from a one race, it never seemed to work for him.

    I really had the feeling that he somehow had issues with the team and that hurt the teamwork. I am curious to see whether he gets a chance at Williams next year and how he will fare there, where the team did have a very positive view on him as their 3rd/test driver

  11. According to this article
    in the Daily Telegraph (UK), he has not been retained by Sauber. Whether that means ‘definitely not wanted’ or ‘not retained yet’ is unclear.

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