Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn has disputed suggestions that Kamui Kobayashi has been outclassed this year by team-mate Sergio Perez.
Perez has had a great season, with a near-win in Malaysia and another podium finish in Canada propelling him, if the rumours are to be believed, into contention for the second seat at Ferrari alongside Fernando Alonso. To date he has finished in the top-ten five times, scoring 47 points - 14 more than Kobayashi, who has yet to do better than fourth.
Despite that though, Kaltenborn doesn't think the Japanese driver has underperformed and she is hopeful he will break into the top-three and get his first rostrum in the second half of the year.
“I am not sure if it is really the case that his [Kamui's] performance is dipping against Sergio. I think that the results do not show the whole picture,” Kaltenborn said in an interview with the official F1 site.
“Kamui has shown good performances, but yes, he was a bit struck by misfortune. Twice in qualifying there were some hiccups with the car - only his car - and on the other hand the very risky strategy Sergio was running on in Malaysia bore fruits and catapulted him into the spotlight.
“So I would say that some factors played for Sergio - and some simply didn't work out for Kamui. But as we still have half the season to go, Kamui can go out and copy Sergio.”
Meanwhile, Kaltenborn clarified that the team's goal is not necessarily to try and beat Mercedes over the remaining nine races.
“We have never said that. These words were put in our mouths. We said that our target is to move forward, independent of who is in front of us,” she explained. “Right now we are in P6 in the constructors' championship, but even now we are cautious about this as we learned last season that with still so many races to come, many things can get in your way.
“If you take a closer look at the five teams who are in front of us then you will see that all these teams have substantially more funding than we have, so staying realistic is the need of the hour.
“If we want to move forward we have to concentrate on ourselves and our efficiency, to enhance it even more.”