"After the third free practice on Saturday morning, things didn't look promising at all," admitted Sauber, and they were fearing the worst for qualifying in Bahrain. But once the all-important session got underway, things went a lot better than expected and an hour later the smiling faces in the Sauber garage confirmed that they had managed to turn things around.
"Everything went okay today," said a relieved Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering for Sauber F1. "We struggled a bit with the balance in the morning. This track is definitely not easy for us but then qualifying was fine and both drivers did a good job."
"Today was a very good qualifying and another great effort by the team. The result is a lot better than we expected after free practice," said Sergio Perez, who turned a 13th place in practice around to an eighth place on the grid, having made it all the way into Q3 in qualifying.
"We really managed to maximise the car's potential today," he said. "The target now is to gain some positions at the start and then we will see how the race develops."
However, he was careful to set some expectations for Sunday. "Another podium doesn't look realistic at all," he warned. "This track isn't an easy one for us anyway, but we will go for points."
His team mate Kamui Kobayshi didn't do quite as well in qualifying and missed out on joining Perez in Q3 by just three tenths of a second, which he felt had been more than possible if he'd put in the perfect lap on his final outing.
"With my last set of fresh tyres it went quite well and I could improve at the beginning of my final lap but then I made a mistake at turn eleven. I lost a couple of tenths there," he said.
"Overall the car was much better in qualifying than it had been in free practice this morning," he added, explaining: "Basically we have gone back to yesterday's set-up and that was the right decision."
As for the race itself, Kobayashi felt that a 12th place start on the grid tomorrow should afford him some good opportunities to make up positions. "This circuit here should be fairly good for overtaking," he said. "Of course straight line speed is essential for that and I hope we can do well tomorrow.”