Kamui Kobayashi has said that the Ferrari-powered Sauber C29 should go well in Bahrain next weekend when the F1 2010 season gets underway.
Kobayashi of course made his F1 debut at the end of last year when he was drafted in by Toyota to replace the injured Timo Glock. The Japanese driver impressed during that two-race stint and a strong drive in Abu Dhabi, the F1 2009 season finale, saw him battle his way from 12th on the grid to 6th.
Now he will again be after points and while he knows it won't be easy, he takes strength from the fact he has already driven at the Bahrain International Circuit, albeit on the old layout.
“I won two GP2 Asia races in Bahrain in 2008 and 2009 and I have been testing there in F1 in 2009. I like the fact that the season starts on a circuit I know so well,” Kobayashi stated. “The track is quite nice, I like every corner and now we get some more of them.
“The track has a lot of stop-and-go corners and I really enjoy that style, while I also think it will suit our car. During the tests I learnt a lot and I'm training hard. I definitely feel ready for the start of the season and I'm also looking forward to the usual good weather in Bahrain, as I really like it warm.”
Sauber technical director Willy Rampf meanwhile added that all the teams will have to deal with a lot of unknowns next Sunday.
“The kick off for the coming season promises extra excitement because very few of the teams showed their full potential during the tests,” he explained. “Due to the refuelling ban the fuel cells have become much larger and, therefore, we've got radically different cars. It is an engineer's task to find a set-up which provides a good balance for the cars, although they will now be a hundred kilos heavier at the start of the race.
“Race strategy also provides totally new challenges. Pit stops will be mainly dictated by the tyre performance. Both tyre specs still have to be run.
“The circuit lay-out in Bahrain has changed significantly too as it is now dominated by a narrow section in the infield with eight additional corners. The downforce level will be a compromise.
“On the one hand the many low speed corners require high downforce, but on the other the extraordinary width of the track encourages overtaking and this means you can't disregard the need for top-speed.”