Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld spent the Friday practice sessions comparing new parts and different set-ups, finishing the day 12th and 15th respectively.
Kobayashi, who is sporting a special helmet design for his home race here in Japan, reveals that he is still not happy with the handling of his C29, but is enjoying being at home.
“I am very happy to be in Suzuka, and I enjoy driving here a lot,” he says. “Nevertheless it was a tough day for me. I wasn't happy with the balance of the car because I have too much understeer. We definitely have to improve the balance by doing the right set-up changes. I found both tyre compounds difficult because they dropped off so quickly. After just one lap I had problems. In the morning I also had some aero parts to evaluate.”
Heidfeld says that he was also having problems with tyres, but enjoys the challenge that the Japanese circuit provides. “Driving on the Suzuka Circuit always gives me a lot of enjoyment!” says the German. “I found the car really not too bad on the harder Prime compound, but then it was a surprise when we fitted the softer Option tyres. The car behaved a lot differently and the lap time actually didn't improve. This is something we have to sort out before qualifying. In the first session this morning I did runs comparing different front wings.”
Sauber technical director James Key says comparing different parts was this morning’s priority, and that the team have identified the areas where car set-up needs improving. “It was a standard Friday for us,” he says. “We had some aero test items in the morning, and rather than doing a lot of set-up work we mainly concentrated on running different parts to make sure we optimise our package from Singapore.
“In the afternoon we made some set-up changes and ran both tyre compounds. We found we have a small inconsistency in the balance in sector two, which is by far the weakest sector for the car. We have to work on that tonight. We have a lot of data to look at and we'll analyse this in preparation for tomorrow.”