Sauber described the outcome of qualifying in Valencia today as ‘humbling’. Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi could manage only sixteenth and eighteenth places, respectively, on the European Grand Prix grid.
Despite what looks on paper like a poor result, Pedro de la Rosa actually said he was ‘happy’ with his qualifying result. “Sixteenth doesn't look great, but I must say I am quite happy with what we did in qualifying,” said the Spaniard.
“In Q1 especially our performance was really good,” he went on to explain. “We improved the car after free practice and the changes paid off. We pushed hard and I think we got the best out of the package. There are limits. I think the track conditions favoured the harder tyre compound. The prime tyres were really good. With the softer option tyres I had a lack of grip and was sliding too much.”
Kamui Kobayashi again had the dubious honour of exiting qualifying in Q1, along with six drivers employed by the three new teams. The Japanese driver was definitely not as satisfied as his teammate: “I am very disappointed after having been out so early in qualifying,” said Kobayashi. “My first run on the prime tyres was okay, and when we changed to the option tyres I was expecting a lot more from them for the second run, but there was no extra grip.
“Anyway I didn't exploit the potential because on my first flying lap with the softer tyres I locked the front wheels, which resulted in them being flat spotted. That's why I felt vibrations in the car and this ruined my second flying lap. It is a shame.”
Sauber technical director James Key reflected on the disappointing session, and said that the usual combination of tyre, grip, and balance contributed to their poor grid positions.
“It was a disappointing qualifying, but incredibly close,” he said. “The grip level seemed to bequite inconsistent, and unfortunately it wasn't possible for Kamui to get through to the second part of qualifying. He flat spotted the front tyres and was therefore not able to put the best sector times together, which seemed to be tricky today on the option tyres.
“Pedro did quite a good job in Q1 where he was 13th. He then began Q2 on the prime tyres and switched to the option tyres for the second run, but again a lack of grip and a balance difference between the two compounds seemed to be the problem. Unfortunately he couldn't improve his lap time, and again the sectors tell a slightly different story. But that's where we are this weekend, so we have to improve.”