Sauber got one car into Q3 today with Kamui Kobayashi, while teammate Pedro de la Rosa was not far off, qualifying thirteenth.
Kobayashi was ninth in Q2, but his lap in Q3 was compromised as he was without any new option tyres. “I'm really happy to be in Q3 for the third time,” said the Japanese driver.
“For me driving here was much better on Saturday than on Friday, as set up changes as well as conditions played a role. In Q3 I could not fight because we hadn't a fresh set of option tyres left, as we had already used them all. However, we kept working hard and apparently it pays off.”
Pedro de la Rosa was disappointed with his final lap in Q2, but feels that the team are improving after their disappointing start to the season. “Overall we have made progress,” said the Spaniard. “The balance of the car in general was very good.”
“It was actually best on the harder Prime tyres, therefore I could not get the extra grip out of the softer Option compound. My last lap, I have to say, wasn't brilliant. I lost some time in the final sector.
“I believe we have quite a consistent car for the race, because our long runs in free practice were good. Also I regard it as an advantage to have a grid position on the clean side of the track, as with all the dust here this really makes a difference.”
After qualifying, Peter Sauber, the team principal, was keen to praise his team after their qualifying performance. “Looking at our performance, it's obvious we are back on track. This is a great achievement for the drivers and the team. Kamui's P9 in Q2 in particular is a fantastic result. Looking at who was behind him in Q2, he can really be proud of his lap. Congratulations to everybody in the team.”
Technical Director James Key agreed that the team are improving, and thinks they can expect a good outcome to tomorrow’s race: “That was a good day for the team. We made some good progress in the areas we knew we needed to improve from yesterday, which seemed to work pretty well.
“In the morning [practice] session Pedro was much happier with the balance of his car, and that was reflected in the lap times. We still had some work to do with Kamui's car, however, we did a few changes between FP3 and qualifying which also paid off.
“It's great to be back in Q3 which is what we hoped for. Kamui did a great job, as he put in an excellent lap and really picked up his pace in qualifying.
“It was also a very good session from Pedro, but it was a great shame he couldn't make it to Q3, because by rights he could have been there. He had a set of new options left, which sadly Kamui didn't, so his lap was compromised.
“Both drivers showed a strong performance, and we can look forward to a good race tomorrow.”