Kamui Kobayashi cut a confident figure despite being restricted to back of the grid by fuel pump failure in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, and his optimism was rewarded with an F1 world championship point on Sunday. However, the Sauber team was still a little underwhelmed with his performance.
Kobayashi failed to complete a flying lap in Saturday's qualifying session as the failure stranded him short of the pit-lane at Istanbul Park, but remained cheerful as he recalled Mark Webber's charge from 18th to the podium in China and noted that he still had a full allocation of tyres on which to base his strategy. Already up four places by the end of the first lap, the Japanese ace continued to climb the order, reaching a high of fifth after leaving his first pit-stop later than most.
His progress appeared to have been halted as the race moved into its second half, with the Sauber dropping momentarily down the timesheet after picking up a puncture in his exuberance, but Kobayashi recovered to pick off his rivals once again and eventually settle into tenth place as the chequered flag waved.
“It was a lot of fun today, and I really enjoyed this race - I found overtaking here a lot easier than last year in Hungary," he grinned, "Before the race, I had promised Peter [Sauber] to score points today. It is just one point now because we lost so much time due to a puncture - which was the result of touching Sébastien Buemi when I overtook him. Otherwise, I think I could have finished seventh and scored more points.
"In the end, I had to be a bit careful and save the tyres, because the last stint was quite long with 20 laps, but it worked out well. The car was great and the team had a very good strategy for me, so I want to thank them for this.”
Team owner Sauber called Kobayashi's performance 'amazing' despite the lower-than-expected return, while technical director James Key confirmed that both drivers had made the most of their races, despite starting in 'compromised positions'.
“What an eventful race!" the Briton reflected, "A great drive by both our drivers. The car was definitely a lot better than in qualifying, and the drivers extracted the most out of it. It's a real shame we couldn't get them both in the points and finish a bit higher up, because it was possible.
"Kamui had a puncture towards the end of the second stint, which dropped him back. So it's a real shame, but we can't complain, because we managed to squeeze a point out of it. I think it's a tribute to Kamui's race craft to go from P24 to tenth. Now we have an updated package for Barcelona, and we hope this will help us to continue to score points on a regular basis.”
Rookie Sergio Pérez finished the race in 14th position after being forced to make an early pit-stop for repairs to his front wing.
“We had a good pace today and I clearly had a chance to score my first points, so it is a real shame what happened on the first lap," he admitted, "Pastor Maldonado was braking quite hard in front of me and I couldn't avoid hitting him. I broke my front wing and had to pit. Apart from that, I found it quite difficult to manage the tyres - both compounds actually - but the car was really good."