Sauber looked a worried team on Saturday afternoon at the Circuit of the Americas, after qualifying for the 2012 F1 United States Grand Prix saw their drivers slump to 15th and 16th places in Q2.

"We have lost a lot of performance compared to this morning's practice session and at the moment we don't really know why," admitted Sergio Perez, who is something of a local hero this weekend given the proximity of Austin, Texas to his home country of Mexico just across the US border.

"My car tended to oversteer quite a lot in qualifying," admitted Perez. "The track temperature increased a lot, but for me the tyre warm up still wasn't any better ... Perhaps we did not follow the way the track conditions developed in the right direction."

"Without doubt the result is disappointing for us," agreed his Japanese team mate Kamui Kobayashi, who confessed that he'd been expecting better after a solid performance in the practice sessions.

"I found the warm up of the tyres easier this afternoon, but still I could not find the peak performance for the tyres - I just don't know yet why this was," he said. "Tomorrow in the race it should be less of a problem to get the tyres to work, but obviously our grid positions will make it difficult to put in a good result."

Perez couldn't help but feel that his qualifying performance had let down the thousands of Mexicans who had come to support him this weekend.

"I wish I could have done better today, but I will do my very best to give all these people a good race," he said. "I want to thank all the people in the grandstands and especially all the Mexicans, who sacrificed time and money to travel to Austin and bought tickets. In my country you always go with your entire family and I know this is not easy to do because it is an expensive trip."

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn had other reasons to be worried about the team's slump on Saturday, which the team itself admitted had been "clearly below expectations" in its post-session press release.

Sauber is bidding to overtake Mercedes in the constructors championship in order to finish in fifth place in the standings. Currently, Sauber is 12pts behind, but Mercedes have failed to score any championship points in the last four races meaning that Sauber has been gaining ground in the final run to the season finale. But if they're to achieve their objective, they can't afford to stall this weekend in the US.

"This qualifying result is a big disappointment for the whole team," agreed Kaltenborn. "We don't really understand what happened, because we couldn't match our lap times from free practice three. It's up to the engineers now to turn this round in the race."

The team's Head of Track Engineering, Giampaolo Dall'Ara, didn't have any immediate answers for her.

"After free practice three we expected a lot more," he admitted. "We didn't make any major changes to the set-up of the cars, and we approached qualifying with quite a lot of confidence. However, both drivers reported a lack of grip.

"We gave them a higher number of laps to cope with the warm-up issues we had during the weekend, but it didn't produce the result we expected. We just didn't find the same level of grip and balance as we did in the morning.

"We will have to analyse the data very carefully to understand what went wrong," he said. "Certainly the race will be another story, but our grid positions are a clear disadvantage."

 

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