GREAT RACE FOR SAUBER: Sauber's Felipe Nasr finished in fifth place at the 2015 Australian GP in Melbourne. Image: AFP / William West
MELBOURNE, Australia- Felipe Nasr shrugged off the legal distractions that have plagued Sauber with an impressive debut at the 2015 Australian GP on Sunday (March 15).
Nasr, who was unsure until Saturday (March 14) whether he would be competing, showed he had a cool head as well as a fast car as he finished fifth in his first Formula 1 race.
He finished a long way behind Mercedes' race winner Lewis Hamilton but did well to stay in front of home hero Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull after a long battle at Albert Park.
NASR SURPRISES IN MELBOURNE
Nasr said: "I have to say I was surprised with everything but I think the preparation was done really well over the winter.
Nasr was only assured of his place after driver Giedo van der Garde dropped his legal action against the team on March 15.
A test driver for Sauber in 2014, Van der Garde has accused them of reneging on a deal to let him race this season.
He won the initial case and a subsequent appeal but dropped a contempt of court action, allowing Nasr and Marcus Ericsson to drive in Australia even though the issue remains unresolved.
Nasr said: "We had a difficult beginning. I would say the most difficult in my career. To just keep everything together is such a big relief for myself and the team."
Despite his impressive showing, Nasr still does not know whether he will start at the 2015 Malaysian GP with Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn refusing to comment on the case.
Kaltenborn said: "That's a bad topic, I'm not going to say anything about that."
Kaltenborn instead spoke glowingly about the improved performance of the Sauber team, who failed to score a single point last year in their worst ever season, after both drivers finished in the top eight.
Sshe said: "We could see in winter testing that the car was far more competitive than last year. It's the chassis and of course the powertrain. Ferrari has done a great job with their powertrain.
"We could see it coming up but to have this kind of result is like a dream come true for the first race."
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