Even though he didn’t get much chance to show it in the Sprint Race, Marino Sato says his Virtuosi Racing was “strong straight from the go,” following some post-Sakhir modifications.
Sato struggled in the opening round of the season, qualifying 14th and failing to make it into the points in either of the races. With just a week between Rounds 1 and 2, he says the team worked tirelessly to get to the bottom of the issues.
Starting the Sprint Race in 13th today, Sato managed to make up three places to 10th as three Safety Cars heavily restricted the number of racing laps.
“There was a bit in our setup where our expectations in Sakhir were a bit wrong,” Sato said. “We had a deeper look at that after the races. We didn't get many laps in Free Practice, but that change felt like it had paid off and it seems like we have been strong straight from the go. READ MORE: Williams reveals pizza-inspired forfeit for Trident if he makes the podium in Jeddah
“We didn’t have a lot of laps in the race today, so there wasn't much chance to move forward. But I think we got an average getaway and our pace looked strong from the very beginning.
“Until right at the end, we didn't even get the chance to use DRS, so there wasn't much opportunity to do anything, but our pace felt strong, and I am quite happy about that.”
Joining Virtuosi after two years with Trident, Sato is still adjusting to his new machinery. The Japanese racer feels there was plenty to learn from in the Sprint Race and hopes that with a few more laps in the Feature Race, he can take another step forward.
“It is a bit of a shame we didn't get more laps because we definitely had more pace than Jehan (Daruvala) had,” he continued. “If I could have gotten him, then another couple of places would have been possible. That was partly on me though, the team did a great effort.
“There were a few situations, and a few overtakes that we can learn from. For the Feature Race. Turn 1 is the best chance to overtake, although it is hard on this narrow track.
“Turn 1 is our best bet. It is possible on the last turn, but it’s a bit risky, so we will see. Hopefully, there are more laps and more chances tomorrow.”