It was a memorable day for Sauber at the Shanghai International Circuit today, with both Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez achieving their best-ever grid positions in qualifying for Sunday's F1 2012 Chinese Grand Prix.
Kobayashi set the fourth fastest time in Q3, which will become third for the start of the race as McLaren's Lewis Hamilton drops five places due to a gearbox change. Kobayashi was naturally delighted with this result, but is refusing to get ahead of himself, insisting he is 'not a dreamer'.
“I am very happy, the team did a great job. For quite a while we have kept saying we need to improve our qualifying performance, and I think this was a clear improvement today,” Kobayashi commented.
“I will be starting from third position tomorrow because Lewis Hamilton had to change his gearbox. This grid position obviously means a lot of chances. However, I am not a dreamer and the target remains the same: score as many points as you can.
“We have a strong car, normally it is also good on tyres and I am looking forward to the race full of confidence.”
Team-mate Perez had a more low key session, but it was still his best-ever qualifying and a good way to build on his fantastic second place last time out in Malaysia.
“It is obviously a good qualifying result for our team,” he added. “Personally I must admit I even hoped for more than P8. After the previous runs had been very promising, on the final lap in Q3, when I was on a fresh set of soft tyres, I suddenly had understeer. I don't know where that came from.”
Sauber's head of track engineering, Giampaolo Dall'Ara meanwhile spoke of the team's delight at their achievements.
“It has been our goal for some time to put both cars into the top ten, which we finally managed to do. Kamui did a fantastic job and his result is beyond our expectations. He will start third and, looking at our recent race performance, we can be very optimistic for tomorrow.
“Indeed almost everything went well apart from Sergio's final run in which he complained about too much understeer. This is something we have to look into.”
by Philip Barclay