Sauber claimed their best result of the season in Japan today as Kamui Kobayashi pulled off a fantastic drive to take seventh and Nick Heidfeld followed his teammate home in eighth place.
Kobayashi worked his way through from 14th on the grid to seventh at the finish by way of some brave overtaking manoeuvres. “I tried my best and I am very happy,” he said. “It was a great race for our team, and I'm very pleased for the Japanese fans who have watched an exciting race. It is the second time we have got both cars in the points, and for me it was really something to come back here and race for the first time after seven years in front of my home crowd.
“Nevertheless it was a very tough race today. Qualifying and the race in the space of only a few hours made it quite a busy and unusual Sunday. After the start I saw the accidents in front of me, and I was really lucky not to be hit.
“Later it was not too easy to overtake and I had some contact [with Jaime Alguersuari]. The car was damaged, but it was not too severe and I was able to finish the race. I really want to thank the team for the great job and the fans for their fantastic support.”
Heidfeld started the race eleventh, and had worked his way up to seventh before being overtaken by Kobayashi in the closing stages of the grand prix. However, the German is pleased with his first points of 2010.
“I'm quite happy – it is the best result for the team this season,” said Heidfeld. “In the end I could have finished one place higher, but I was on a different tyre strategy to Kamui and he was obviously faster with his fresh option tyres. I started on the option tyres.
“Obviously I was meant to push really hard in the early laps, but then the safety car came out and later I got stuck behind Rubens (Barrichello). The team did a very good job by calling me in early for the change to the prime tyres.
“Compared to Singapore, we made good progress in race performance. For qualifying, I think, there is more to come. I'm looking forward to the three remaining races.”
Sauber technical director James Key was full off praise for his drivers, mechanics, and the entire team after scoring the ten points. “I'm delighted with the race and the result we achieved,” he said. “We just missed out in qualifying, but our race performance more than makes up for that. Both drivers got a clean start and were able to avoid the problems in turn one.
“We decided for a split strategy with Kamui on the prime tyre and Nick on the option, and both strategies worked in the way we hoped they would. Kamui did a great job to hang on with the prime. He drove superbly to control his race, but overtook as well on a track where overtaking is very difficult. On the option tyres at the end he was absolutely spectacular.
“Nick also did a fantastic job. He drove exactly the race he needed to. The pace was good, and it's a great result in just his second race after coming back. The team on the pit wall did a great job as well as did the mechanics. It was a great performance from the whole team.”