Sauber were surprised to find their C29 ‘stronger than expected’ during Friday practice on the challenging Interlagos circuit in Brazil.
Nick Heidfeld finished the day in P8, a position that surprised the German: “I am quite satisfied because I didn't expect us to be that strong here, and the lap time isn't on the edge yet. The long runs were even better than eighth fastest. I feel here I made a step forward with the set up of the car.”
Teammate Kamui Kobayashi didn’t have such a straightforward day. The Japanese driver is still trying to improve his car set-up, and went off the track at the end of the morning session after damaging his left-rear tyre by driving over debris. He finished the day twelfth.
“I think our general performance is quite good, but I'm not yet happy with my car,” said Kobayashi. “We have to find the right balance, as it is too understeery. Also I expected a bit more grip from the option tyres. At least the puncture at the end of the first session didn't cost track time, and we have completed our programme as planned.”
In his summary of the day, Sauber Technical Director James Key said the team had a successful day in establishing the set-up, although there is more work to do, in particular on Kobayashi’s car. “We had no development items to test, so it was just a case of setting up the car for both drivers,” Key explained. “The track's grip came in quickly this morning, and was already quite consistent in free practice 1. We scanned the downforce levels, and we are happy with what we have now established.
“In the afternoon we evaluated the tyres. It looks like we have to work a little bit on the prime tyres to fully understand how they are behaving when warming up, and then also with longevity. The option tyres seem to be fairly consistent, and both drivers did a better lap time on them.
“Nick seems to be reasonably happy with the car. Kamui's got a few more balance issues that we will work on overnight. Overall it was a useful day.”