Sauber had a solid qualifying session in Korea today with Kamui Kobayashi finishing twelfth, and Nick Heidfeld just behind him in thirteenth.
“Overall, I think we achieved the best possible result,” said Kobayashi. “It wasn't much that was missing to make it into Q3. This morning we found the track had changed a lot from yesterday. Therefore the set-up work we did before needed to be re-evaluated.
“In qualifying I found the car a little bit nervous, but generally okay. Our tyre strategy was good, and for me it was the right decision to go for only one but longer run in Q2.
“On my fastest lap I wasn't lucky with traffic, but this can happen. I am looking forward to a good and challenging race tomorrow!”
Heidfeld had no complaints about traffic but did have trouble with getting heat into his tyres and subsequent graining. “Qualifying here was a lot of fun,” said the German. “I had a clear lap with no traffic problems this time, and I also think my fastest lap was a good one, so I'm happy with it. In the morning we had some set-up difficulties, but this was solved before qualifying. It is not easy to get the tyres to work at their best. My third lap with the softer compound was my quickest. After the front tyres had been too cold I was hoping on the next lap the temperatures would go up and I would be able to improve, but instead they started graining.
“My grid position should be on the clean side of the track, and therefore I hope to make up positions at the start. Later it might become difficult to overtake because our top speed isn't brilliant.”
Technical director James Key explained the technical challenges that Sauber faced today and, in summary, thinks that the team are in a good position for points in tomorrow’s race. “We made changes overnight, trying to address yesterday's weakness in the first sector,” he said. “We established the downforce level which we thought was right, and we made mechanical changes.
“In free practice three both drivers reported the car was more oversteery, so more difficult to drive. It seemed we took a step back, with some of this in sector one, but also, compared to Friday, in sector three. For some reason not everything we changed worked the way we hoped, although the track was much more slippery and cooler than yesterday afternoon, so this was possibly a factor. Everybody did a good job to rectify the problems we had this morning.
“In qualifying we decided to play it safe in Q1 and go for option tyres for the second run, because we didn't know what the difference was between the prime and the option. We then decided to save a set of options in Q2 on the basis lap three was possibly the quickest. We had a little bit of traffic, but both drivers did well to get their quickest time on lap three. We were just a couple of tenths off breaking into Q3. It was strange that we lost quite a bit of time in the second sector, but sector one and three were much better.
“It's a shame we didn't make Q3, but everybody did a good job to get out of the difficult situation from this morning. We know our race pace is always much better than qualifying, so we are looking forward to a good race tomorrow. I'm sure we can fight for points from where we are.”