Following on from their epic Sunday in Malaysia, Sauber impressed once again today by claiming an excellent qualifying result in China.
Kamui Kobayashi qualified in an excellent fourth place and team-mate Sergio Perez was eighth – both drivers picked up their best ever grid positions.
And to make matters even better, Kobayashi will actually start tomorrow’s race from third place, once Lewis Hamilton‘s five-place grid penalty is applied, although the Japanese driver doesn’t seem to believe it himself:
“I am very happy, the team did a great job,” said Kobayashi. “For quite a while we have kept saying we need to improve our qualifying performance, and I think this was a clear improvement today. Apparently I will be starting from third position tomorrow because Lewis Hamilton had to change his gearbox.
“This grid position obviously means a lot of chances. However, I am not a dreamer and the target remains the same: score as many points as you can. We have a strong car, normally it is also good on tyres and I am looking forward to the race full of confidence.”
Perez said that he was actually hoping for a better result today, but the fates (or understeer) conspired against him on his final flying lap. “It is obviously a good qualifying result for our team,” said the Mexican driver. “Personally I must admit I even hoped for more than P8.
After the previous runs had been very promising, on the final lap in Q3, when I was on a fresh set of soft tyres, I suddenly had understeer. I don't know where this came from. In any case it will be a tough race tomorrow and I will give it my best.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO of Sauber, was understandably delighted at the result today. “What a fantastic performance from both of our drivers!” she exclaimed. “This has been the best qualifying result for a long time and a great achievement for the whole team.
“Finally we are in a position after qualifying to exploit the full potential of the Sauber C31-Ferrari in the race, as we can start from much better positions than in previous races. Congratulations to the whole team!”