Under the twilight of Abu Dhabi, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi finally broke his seven-race points' draught today with a determined drive to tenth place.
That point could prove vital for his team's cause too, as Sauber look to defend their seventh position ahead of Toro Rosso in the Constructors' championship.
Kobayashi's weekend was a tale of two stories following a torrid qualifying that left the Sauber man languishing down in 16th and with it all to do in the race. However, after producing some of his old magic, he was able to make up five positions on the opening lap, only to lose three of those during his opening stint which was designed to be sacrificed on the harder compound tyre.
Once his soft tyres were fitted the strategy and subsequently the race finally came his way, albeit with a bit of shoulder barging to gain vital track position. Fortune also seemed to be in his favour ironically at the expense of his team-mate Sergio Perez, who was nursing a KERS issue and who eventually had to give way to the faster Kobayashi, who was displaying some competitive lap times on the softer tyre.
“I am happy to having scored a point today, I have had a pretty long period without scoring and for me it was important to put an end to this,” Kobayashi said.
“I had a really good start and was able to make up five positions on lap one. Actually the performance of the tyres during and after the start was better than expected. I started on the medium compound as I was only 16th on the grid, and this is obviously a situation in which you have to take chances. But we knew it would be a difficult first stint, and it was not really clear how long those tyres would last. They dropped off after a few laps and then I lost three positions before I pitted after lap five for soft tyres. I think overall it was a good race by us.”
In contrast for Perez, who started eleventh, the day didn't go so well. Perez could quite easily have challenged at least one of the Force India's, who finished eighth and ninth, had the rookie not collided with Adrian Sutil on the opening lap resulting in the Mexican having to make an early pit stop for a new nose. A KERS issue later in the race also did nothing to help his cause.
“I had higher hopes for the race today,” he said. “It is a shame what happened on lap one. There was a queue into turn seven and I couldn't avoid hitting Adrian Sutil's car. It wasn't immediately clear how big the damage was, but then the team told me my front wing was broken and I had to pit after lap two.
“We then decided to go for the medium compound when we did the nose change. On my third stint, again on soft tyres, I was driving in tenth for a while, but then I struggled with the tyres and also for the last 12 laps my KERS wasn't working.”
Team principal Peter Sauber as ever commended his driver's efforts but couldn't help feeling slightly aggrieved with his team for not achieving the maximum their package offered.
“Both drivers showed a lot of fighting spirit and set very good lap times for most of the race. It was good to score a point today, but we didn't achieve the maximum we could. Sergio's race was hampered by his early pit stop to replace the front wing, and for Kamui the team didn't handle his second stop perfectly. However, our race pace was encouraging today,” he summarised.
by Simon Evans