Kamui Kobayashi is looking to build on his impressive start to the 2012 Formula One season in this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. The Sauber driver capitalised on a chaotic final lap to finish sixth, his best result since Monaco last year.
Kobayashi has good memories of Sepang in his motorsport career and feels he has the car underneath him to perform well this year too.
“I have good memories of Malaysia. Last year I finished seventh, two years ago for the first time I managed to make it into Q3, and I also won there in my time in GP2. So it's really a good place for me. I think we have a good chance to score points there because our car showed a lot of potential in Melbourne, and the characteristics of the track should suit us. It will be the first time that we will be driving in really hot ambient temperatures, but that shouldn't be an issue. Looking at the performance of our car, I'm really optimistic for this race.”
Teammate Sergio Perez also scored points in eighth although he was one of those to lose out in the closing stages yesterday following contact with Nico Rosberg. The Mexican was encouraged with the C31's performance in Melbourne but appreciates that Sepang will be a different challenge altogether.
“In Melbourne we did not have a straight forward weekend due to the gearbox failure in qualifying, but nevertheless we have proven the C31 is a fast car and we can be competitive. So I hope in Malaysia we will be having a more consistent weekend in terms of weather conditions and reliability, as there is still a lot more to learn about the car. The Sepang International Circuit is a nice one. It is one of the most physical circuits of the season. The heat is demanding for the drivers and also in terms of tyre degradation. It is not an easy circuit to race on, and it is quite technical. I especially like the first section of the lap with the long corners and some hard braking.”
Head of Track Engineering, Giampaolo Dall'Ara, expects the heat to put strain on the teams, the cars and particularly on the tyres.
“The circuit in Sepang is a technical one, but also a modern and wide one which therefore allows for more lines. In terms of set-up you have to take into account that it is demanding for the tyres. The tarmac is rather on the rough side and you have high speed corners and changes of direction which put stress on the tyres. Therefore the hardest and the medium tyre compounds from Pirelli are allocated for this race. The car configuration will be almost the same as in Melbourne. It is a back to back race anyway and the downforce level isn't much different to Melbourne. Drag matters mostly in the first sector and, to a certain extent, also in sector three. Traction is important although a bit less crucial compared to the street circuit we have been racing on in Australia. Braking stability fairly much effects the lap time, so we have to keep an eye on that. In terms of cooling for the engine and gearbox, you normally run the maximum available configuration in Sepang. Last, but not least, there you sometimes have to deal with changing weather conditions at very short notice. It will be another challenging race weekend and we are looking forward to it.”