In recent races Sauber have overcome their reliability problems, and their unfortunate tendency to be on the receiving ends of incidents, and have started securing good points with Kamui Kobayashi. Today the problems stayed away but, unfortunately for Sauber, so did the points.
Kobayashi finished the race in P11, and said that lack of straight-line speed was one of the reasons why the team could not make up any further ground. “I am not really happy with today's race,” said the Japanese driver. “I felt a lack of grip on both sets of tyres, and tyre degradation started quite early on.
“In qualifying the balance of the car was definitely better than today. However, I had a good start and made up two positions then. The crew did a good pit stop. I tried to overtake Michael Schumacher, who was held up by a back marker, but then we ended up fighting on the straight and this is not really a strength of our car yet.
“Later I tried to fight Vitaly Petrov, but could not get by him either.”
Teammate Pedro de la Rosa had a collision with Heikki Kovalainen while lapping the Lotus driver, and he eventually finished fourteenth.
“The first laps of the race were very difficult for me on the hard tyres,” explained the Spaniard. “It was like driving on ice. My race actually started only after 20 or 25 laps when the tyre temperatures and grip were there. Then the car improved on every lap as it was getting lighter.
“The end of the race was very disappointing for me. After my late pit stop I was on fresh tyres and wanted to fight for positions. After I passed Nico HÃ¼lkenberg the next cars in front were Rubens Barrichello and then Kamui. But I have to say the behavior of the back markers was a serious problem over the whole race, and in the end I crashed into one who had opened the door for Rubens but closed it immediately again.”
James Key explained how Sauber split the tyre allocation of the two drivers, and that for neither to pick up points was disappointing. “We decided to take a split strategy, with a gamble on Pedro's side and a standard strategy on Kamui's,” said the Sauber technical director. “Kamui drove well in a pack of cars and was probably held up early in the race. We brought him in to protect him against the cars directly around him, but it seems the option tyres lasted quite well for more laps and this enabled Vitaly Petrov to pass him immediately after his stop. He was then not able to re-pass him again, so we missed out on the points.
“With Pedro we decided to go as long as we felt we could, and then put the option tyres on at the end to see what was possible. Initially it worked well as he overtook Nico HÃ¼lkenberg, but then made contact with Heikki Kovalainen and damaged his front wing.
“It's a shame it didn't work out for us today, but it's only one week before the next race where we want to do better.”