Both Sauber drivers went out of qualifying at the Q2 stage in Germany today, but it is a measure of how far the team have come this season that they were disappointed not to be in Q3, rather than relieved to be out of Q1.
Kamui Kobayashi was fastest of the Sauber duo, qualifying twelfth for tomorrow’s grand prix. Despite only qualifying higher than this on four occasions this season, the Japanese driver was clearly disappointed.
“I am not happy because I should have gone through into Q3,” explained Kobayashi. “The car was good and the performance in qualifying confirmed this. But on my second run in Q2 I had traffic and needed to slow down a bit. Obviously this wasn't good for the tyre temperatures and I had a lack of grip afterwards.
“However, from 12th on the grid I should still be able to score points tomorrow.”
Pedro de la Rosa qualified in fifteenth, but also felt that he should have had a top-ten grid slot. “I was certainly hoping to make it into Q3,” said the Spaniard. “Overall I think we have been closer to the top ten than expected. The car was good and it will be the same in the race tomorrow. On my second run in Q2 I pushed too hard and had a couple of big moments. This way I obviously couldn't improve my lap time.”
Team principal Peter Sauber agreed with the evaluation of his two drivers, but did recognise the progress that the team have made in the last four months: “The positive aspect of today is the fact our car made another step forward with regard to performance, otherwise we wouldn't be able to compete at such a level. However, it's disappointing we didn't make it into Q3.”
James Key, the Sauber technical director, said that both drivers were happy with their cars going into qualifying, but for some reason just couldn’t get the tyres to work at the crucial moment. “We came in this morning after working over night on the cars to address some of the issues we found in dry conditions yesterday,” he said. “Both drivers were happy with the cars this morning, and we looked reasonably competitive.
“We went to qualifying knowing we hada realistic chance of a getting into Q3. There was a big accident in the first session, and it was good to see Vitantonio Liuzzi walk away from that. Then it was about concentrating on getting the tyres to work.
“The first outings were reasonable. Kamui was in the top ten straightaway, but unfortunately we couldn't get the most out of the new tyres on the second run, where we didn't improve at all. That left us just outside the top ten.
“Ultimately it was disappointing, but I'm pleased the car has taken a step forward. We should be able to fight for points tomorrow.”