Sauber had a trouble-free day of Friday practice in China with both Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez completing 50 laps or more.
Kobayashi finished the day as the eleventh fastest driver, but the Japanese feels that his team should begin to challenge the top ten as the weekend progresses.
“Overall we had a reasonable pace today, but I think we can improve, he said. “We need some time to get a better set-up and adjust the balance. The grip level was very low, especially at the beginning of the day. The track is quite dusty and some parts have new tarmac, which was quite tricky. I did a long run with the soft tyres and they were all right.”
Perez did not fare quite as well, ended the day down in seventeenth. However, the Mexican revealed that he had been suffering from a cold all week, and feels that things will improve for qualifying.
“I think we have collected a lot of information today for us to analyse tonight, and this is especially from the long runs,” said Perez. “I guess we can improve, in particular for qualifying when you need to put a single lap together. I also hope to improve in myself as, after catching a cold from the air conditioning, I haven't felt well since the race in Malaysia, but it is getting better.”
Sauber technical director James Key explained the team’s schedule for the day, adding that there are still areas to improve, most crucially the set-up of the car.
“Free practice one kicked off with different test items for each driver,” he commented. “We ran through some aerodynamic tests and gathered some useful data. In performance terms this session wasn't very useful, because the track had low grip and we only ran one set of tyres on each car.
“In the afternoon we used four new sets of tyres and went through some set up changes to the cars in race spec. I think there is a bit of work to do on the balance of the car in sector one and, although we improved that sector a bit, it is a weak point from what we can see.
“I think Kamui's time would have been better, but he made a small mistake at the end of the lap, and Sergio's lap just didn't quite come together, so we shall have to look at that for the soft tyre. Otherwise the cars ran reliably, but the balance here is different compared to the other two races, so it is a moving target.”