Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi finally provided some good news for Japan as he qualified an impressive ninth for the Australian Grand Prix.
The Japanese star dedicated his place grid slot to his earthquake-hit home nation as he showed the Sauber had genuine pace with only a lack of tyre availability in Q3 preventing him from a shot at a higher grid slot.
He revealed: “Overall performance wise we are not too bad and now we see what we have done in the winter was okay.”
“Of course there are still things to improve, but this is only the first Grand Prix and making it into Q3 is good.”
“I only wish I had a set of new tyres left for Q3, instead of the used set of soft tyres, as then I think P6 would have been possible.”
“However, I believe today is positive news and I'm very happy to give that to Japan.”
Sauber teammate Sergio Perez was the pick of the rookies in the first qualifying session of 2011 as he secured 13th place on the grid.
But like Kobayashi, the Mexican debutant was also left dreaming of a higher position after hydraulic problems in third practice and traffic in Q2 held him back.
He explained: “My first qualifying started quite well with P6 in Q1, and this was mainly because in the third free practice I couldn't run on soft tyres and low fuel as we lost a lot of time due to a hydraulic problem.”
“In Q2 we were a bit tight on time after the yellow flag, and then on my last flying lap I had traffic in the final sector and could not get the most out of the tyres.”
“Today a better result was possible, and this is a shame. But generally I feel very comfortable and hope for a good race tomorrow with some points at the end.”