India 'a real disappointment' for Sauber
28 October 2012
Sauber were left frustrated after a pointless outing at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida for the 2012 F1 Indian Grand Prix on Sunday, with Sergio Perez ending up back in the garage after only a third of the race, and Kamui Kobayashi slumping to 14th place after clashing with Pastor Maldonado and then getting stuck behind a Toro Rosso in the final laps.
"I have to say it wasn't our weekend here," admitted Kobayashi. "In the race I was never alone, I always had someone in front of me but not enough straight line pace to overtake. This was frustrating. I was stuck behind Daniel Ricciardo and there was nothing I could do.
"The issue with Pastor Maldonado was a bit strange," he said of the lap 31 incident with the Williams. "He had overtaken me but then he suddenly came on my racing line again. I could not avoid having contact."
From video footage, it looked as though Maldonado believed he was further ahead of the Sauber than he was and attempted to move back to the normal racing line to take the next left hander. Instead, his rear tyre caught Kobayashi's front wing and was sliced open, sending Maldonado skidding over the gravel run-off.
Fortunately the clash didn't wreck Kobayashi's car and he was able to continue to the finish, albeit now stuck behind Ricciardo who had got past him during the incident.
"I think we should make sure we have a smooth weekend in Abu Dhabi and forget about this one here,' signed the Japanese driver. But the poor result won't help his campaign to keep hold of his race seat with the team in 2013.
"A disappointing race. Kamui fought hard but his grid position was too much of a handicap," was the view of team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.
The team's head of track eEngineering, Giampaolo Dall'Ara, agreed that having to start from 17th place after a poor qualifying effort on Saturday had been decisive in the way that Kobayashi's race had panned out.
"Kamui had to start too far behind," said Dall'Ara. "Although he had better pace than Daniel, he was not able to overtake him and lost too much time in the first part of the race. Kamui was not able to recover from that.”
As for Perez, things had started to go wrong for him early on when he was forced to throw his pit strategy completely out of the window and head for pit lane much sooner than planned.
"I had to pit after 14 laps because the front left tyre was blistering badly," he said. "We don't know yet why this happened."
That left him down in 16th position but on fresher tyres and determined to make the best use of them to charge through the field and make up for lost time and positions. Unfortunately, after passing his team mate Kobayashi, he came up on the back of Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso. Rather than getting stuck behind the slower car as his team mate would do later in the race, Perez made an opportunistic move to pass the Australian into turn 1 at the start of lap 20, only to pay the price in the process.
"I wanted to recover the lost positions but touched Daniel Ricciardo's front wing when I overtook him," Perez explained. "The rear right tyre came off the rim and damaged something at the rear of the car. So my race was over after 20 laps."
Kaltenborn rued the "unexpected problems" Perez encountered with his front tyre wear, which had forced the team to change from the planned one-stop strategy on the fly.
"We had to change to a two stop strategy," confirmed Giampaolo Dall'Ara. "He went out on another set of soft tyres, but then had contact with Daniel Ricciardo's car and had a puncture. After his second pit stop he reported problems with the rear of the car and we decided to retire him."
Overall, then, very much a race to forget - as Perez confirmed, saying “Today was a total disappointment."
There was one small consolation, which is that the next team ahead of Sauber in the constructors championship - Mercedes - also failed to score any points in India, which means that the gap between them remains at 20pts with three races left to go. Even so, Kaltenborn wasn't feeling optimistic about their chances.
"Our goal to fight for fifth position in the constructors' championship will now be more difficult to achieve," she confessed.