Kamui Kobayashi is pinning his hopes of a third straight points finish for Sauber on the Swiss team's latest update for the C29, which is due to be rolled out at Hockenheim this weekend.
Having started the season with four straight retirements before finally seeing the chequered flag in twelfth place at the Spanish Grand Prix, Kobayashi has been knocking on the door of the top ten ever since, claiming the final point in Turkey - between two more retirements - before backing up his battling seventh in Valencia with sixth at Silverstone. Despite that haul of 14 points elevating the Japanese driver into twelfth overall, and Sauber clear of Toro Rosso in the constructors' standings, no-one at Hinwil is expecting more to come easily in Germany this weekend, as team-mate Pedro de la Rosa's record has shown.
The Spaniard is among the more unlucky members of the field this season, finishing close to the points on several occasions, and even being docked his opening sore in Valencia when a rash of penalties were handed out post-race. Now, as Sauber celebrates its 40th anniversary, its two C29s will run modified diffusers at Hockenheim, and Kobayashi is hoping that the upgrade can keep him in the hunt for points.
“After two good races recently, I hope we can keep our momentum and develop the car further," the rookie noted, "If the new update we will be getting for the German Grand Prix also works, as the last two did for Valencia and Silverstone, I'm confident of scoring points again.
"I know the Hockenheim circuit pretty well as I have raced there in Formula Renault, F3 and GP2, and I actually quite like the track. It has some narrow sections, but also a long straight, and this combination makes it a very technical circuit. It is not easy to find the right set-up for the car there, and this is an interesting challenge. “
de la Rosa, meanwhile, posted his best qualifying result so far this year with ninth place on the gird at Silverstone, and is simply hoping for more luck in the races.
“I hope we can carry on with the performance we had in Silverstone, although Hockenheim doesn't offer so many high speed corners," the Spanish veteran, who admits to knowing the older Hockenheim layout better than its new variation, conceded, "The team has improved the car quite a lot since Valencia and, at Silverstone, we were able to get the most out of the car's potential. It was very good on Saturday and, of course, I was deeply disappointed when I could not finish the race and score. But I have to look forward, and I think I can fight for points.”
Technical director James Key is well aware that Hockenheim differs from both Silverstone and the Valencia street circuit, however, and points to tyre management as a key factor this weekend.
“After two good races, we obviously want to carry on the momentum as best we can at Hockenheim, but it's quite a different track to the last two," the Briton confirmed, "It's more a mix of slow speed corners in the final section - where you can gain lap time if you get it right - and, to a certain extent, quite a bit of straight line running. It's going to be a trade-off between downforce and drag, but we will have several aero updates on our C29, including a modified diffuser. It's a package which is again a step in the same direction we've been pursuing for Valencia and Silverstone,
"There are some high-speed areas, which we think will suit our car well, but the tyre compounds are extreme, either very soft or very hard, so it will be interesting to see how that works out for qualifying and the race. This will increase the workload on Friday and Saturday to make sure we have a good understanding of both compounds.”