In qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix Sauber scored exactly the same grid positions as they managed in Bahrain a fortnight ago, but the team insists there is progress to report.
Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi qualified fourteenth and sixteenth respectively but both drivers are optimistic of fighting for points in tomorrow’s race.
Any finish in Melbourne will be an improvement for Sauber, with both cars suffering hydraulics failures in Bahrain.
De la Rosa is clear about his aims for the race. He also commented on the difficulty of finding sufficient track space to set a flying lap around Albert Park today. “We are still a step away from Q3 but we were closer than in Bahrain. We will keep working hard and further improve the car for the future, and tomorrow we will go and fight for points. This is what I really want – finishing a good race and score. I was pushing hard in qualifying and basically I'm happy with my fastest lap. In the traffic it was very difficult to get in a clear lap, especially in Q1 we obviously had many cars and on different speeds. I tried my best to stay out of everybody's way but it doesn't always work although I'm very well informed from the pit lane about which car is close to me.“
Kobayashi was disappointed with his grid position but is positive ahead of tomorrow’s race. “I expected to finish qualifying a bit higher up because the speed in the third free practice was encouraging. I pushed very hard and nearly lost the car, but we didn't make it into Q3. Nevertheless we definitely improved compared to Bahrain. Although the positions are the same the gap is smaller. I'm quite confident for the race.”
Peter Sauber didn’t attempt to hide his disappointment in his blunt comments after qualifying. “P14 and P16 in qualifying don't meet our expectations, therefore we cannot be satisfied. I think that today we didn't really exploit the full potential of the car.”
Technical Director Willy Rampf agreed with the team principal, and said that further improvements are needed. “It was a qualifying without any particular problems, but our grid positions are quite disappointing. We are not fast enough for Q3, but nevertheless we expected to be further up the grid. There is a pack of cars in the midfield where the gaps are very close, and where you can win or lose positions with just a small time difference. On the positive side, the balance of the car was definitely better here than in Bahrain, but we have to further improve the overall performance.”