Kamui Kobayashi entertained his home fans in qualifying at Suzuka today by setting the fastest time in Q1 and then securing tenth place on the Japanese Grand Prix grid.
Team-mate Sergio Perez did not have such a great day. The Mexican is suffering from a nasty flu-like illness at the moment and a hydraulics problem in Q2 prevented him from setting a timed lap. He will start tomorrow’s race from P17.
“I am really happy we made it into the top ten qualifying in Suzuka,” said Kobayashi. “I very much enjoy seeing all the fans here. In free practice we struggled quite a lot with the balance of the car, but the set up changes we made for qualifying worked out well.
“I think from the pace of the car you can see now that the new aero package is starting to work. My laps in Q1 and Q2 were good, and I can't complain. We still have some good tyres left for the race tomorrow, and the race is what counts. I want to score points in front of this crowd.”
Perez did manage to find one positive from his qualifying session – he has plenty of unused tyres for the race tomorrow. However, he would clearly prefer to be joining his team-mate amongst the top ten on the grid.
“As you can see from Kamui's result the car is quite competitive, and I was optimistic [that] I would also make it to Q3,” he said. “But then on my last lap in Q1 in sector two I suddenly had a hydraulic problem, I lost everything, starting with the power steering. Therefore I could not go out in Q2, which is obviously disappointing. The mechanics worked very hard and tried to fix it, but we have to do some further investigations and I'm sure we will be alright for the race. For me the weekend isn't that easy because I also have a cold. However, looking at it positively – I have plenty of good tyres for tomorrow's race.”
Team principal Peter Sauber commented on the contrasting fortunes of his two drivers. “This qualifying had an upside and a downside,” he said. “Kamui drove very well and made it into Q3 in his home Grand Prix. Congratulations for a great performance. This also shows that our aero package is working as expected. This cannot be taken for granted without testing these parts beforehand on a race track.
“I'm very sorry for Sergio, who also drove very strongly all weekend despite suffering from a cold, but he was stopped by a hydraulic problem. I'm sure he would have had a good chance to also make it into Q3.”