Kamui Kobayashi admitted he was delighted to qualify on the front row of the grid for the Belgian Grand Prix as the Sauber man secured his best result to date in a dramatic session at Spa.
Kobayashi edged out Spanish GP winner Pastor Maldonado to take second on the grid alongside Jenson Button in a session where Sauber ran strongly throughout – making him only the second Japanese driver to qualify on the front row.
“I am very happy for the team and myself,” he said. “We had felt quite positive before we came here, but I think it is fair to say we didn't expect to be second and fifth in qualifying. We have had strong races this year, but qualifying has been a weakness and the guys have done a great job to improve this.
“I want to thank them very much. After not having time to learn much in either practice session on Friday because of the rain, like everyone else our first dry running was this morning and after free practice three we knew we were quite good.”
Despite being on the front row however, Kobayashi said it was important not to get too carried away with his focus now being on converting his qualifying result into a strong race performance.
“I will be on the front row tomorrow and this is certainly nice, but we don't score points for that,” he said. “The podium must be the target and to reach it we still have a long way to go. We have to get the tyre management and strategy right and cannot allow ourselves the smallest mistake.”
With Sergio Perez impressing as well in fifth place, team CEO Monisha Kaltenborn was thrilled with the performance of her two drivers.
“It is a fantastic result for the team and our best so far,” she said. “I think it is very important after the break that we have come back so strong. We have seen the potential and always said if we could just be further up the grid we could show so much more.
“We are in that position and it is now up to us to continue that trend tomorrow. Hats off to the team at home that has done such a good job getting a good car here, and also to the team in Spa which has done a great job so far.”