With both drivers involved in the multi-car incident at La Source, Sauber finished the F1 2012 Belgian Grand Prix in a deflated mood as Sergio Perez had to retire on the first lap, and Kamui Kobayashi was left with a damaged side-pod, meaning that he was unable to capitalise on the best qualifying performance of his career, and finished well down the order in 13th.
“This is a terrible race result after we had been doing so well in qualifying,” Kobayashi said. “There was nothing I could do when a car came flying into mine after the start.
“I had to pit once for some repairs and then again after seven laps because of a slow puncture.
“During the race I didn't really know how bad the damage to the car was, but I could see a tyre print on the cockpit all the time. Later in parc fermé I understood why I was so slow, as the side pod and some other bodywork had gone.”
The brakes on the Japanese driver's Sauber may have been a contributing factor in the start-line confusion, and Kamui was at a loss to explain the reason for the excessive amount of smoke: “Apparently before the start my car drew a lot of attention because of the smoke. The brakes were too hot, but I was still able to finish the race with them. I don't know why I then also had more wheel spin than expected, so we are looking into that as well,” he explained.
Meanwhile, after an equally strong qualifying, team-mate Perez was also understandably disenchanted: “I am very disappointed for myself and the team as it was such a good opportunity for us to fight for a victory today,” said the Mexican.
Perez was also quick to highlight that neither Sauber driver could have done anything about the accident at the start: “Pastor Maldonado had a jump start first of all. I went on the inside of Fernando Alonso. I was going into turn one, braking and then suddenly the cars came from behind and hit me and it was a big mess. I am now looking forward to the next race in Monza.”
Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn agreed with her drivers' assessments: “It is very disappointing that once again factors beyond our control have ruined another race of ours. We have to take the positive out of this weekend that if we don't make mistakes and get the right qualifying we can be right in front, and that has to be our target again for the next race,” she concluded.
by Joshua Bonser