Kamui Kobayashi got Sauber off the mark today in the F1 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix, a big boost for the Swiss-team after it lost its points in Melbourne due to a rear wing violation.
Kobayashi, who started tenth, utilised a 'risky' two-stop strategy, to eventually finish eighth overall. However the Japanese driver was bumped up to seventh post-race when Lewis Hamilton was penalised and hit with a 20-second penalty for making more than one change of direction while battling with Fernando Alonso.
“I had a good car, the team did a great job, and I'm particularly happy we were able to score our first points here [after Australia],” Kobayashi reflected. “The strategy with only two stops was a little bit risky, but I think it worked out quite well.
“The difficulty about unusual strategies is in the race you find yourself always on a different pace to the competition. I had some nice and fair battles though with Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher, which I enjoyed.”
Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn and technical director, James Key meanwhile were pleased to be able to draw a line under the Australia GP debacle, even if Sergio Perez did have to retire the sister C30 after hitting something that fell off another car.
“It has been a very good weekend for the team, and that is all the more important because of what we experienced in the first race of the season,” Kaltenborn noted. “It showed the car we have has a lot of potential to be competitive. The drivers did excellent jobs again, and Sergio was doing a really good race until he had the incident. Kamui, of course, drove a great race and managed to do it with just two stops. We are very happy and we hope we can keep this up.”
“We decided we would target two stops because we felt we could get away with that,” Key continued. “It was very close to three stops in terms of race time, but we felt it allowed us the opportunity to hold our position at the end of the race.
“Both drivers made reasonable starts. Unfortunately for Sergio, who was driving extremely well, he had an issue with his car suddenly losing power and he reported he ran over some debris. That is when the power stopped so we have to look to see if there is any damage to the car. It is a shame for him as he was in a reasonable position and, with his strategy, could have perhaps picked up a few places.
“Kamui's strategy worked fine [however]. He knew he had to conserve the tyres, so the lap times were not the quickest because we had to do long stints for a two stopper, but the result was excellent for us. We are happy to get some points after what happened in Australia and, if you like, this is where it starts for us,” Key summed-up.