Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez are eagerly anticipating this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix as Formula 1 begins its European season.
Kobayashi would have collected points in all three of the opening races of 2011 if it were not for the technical irregularity that saw both Sauber cars disqualified from the opening race in Australia. The Japanese driver has been back to Tokyo since the last race in China and is now looking forward to visiting Istanbul again.
“It is an exciting track and one of my favourites,” Kobayashi said of the modern Turkish circuit. “Last year our performance was pretty good there, and we scored our first point when I finished the race in tenth. It was a relief for us and this feeling is still a nice memory.
“There are a couple of high speed corners which I like, and I feel we should be quite competitive in Turkey. However, the corner I like most is the triple left hander which forms turn eight. Regarding tyre management, I find it difficult to predict how the situation will develop. The grip level at this circuit is normally very low, which means the cars tend to slide a lot. I believe it will be crucial to save the front tyres in particular so the wear is as low as possible.”
Perez is looking forward to driving an F1 car on a track he already knows, which was not the case in the first three rounds of the season. He is out to open his account of F1 points this weekend.
“In a way I feel for me the championship is about to start now with these next races on circuits I know,” commented the Mexican. “I have raced at Istanbul Park twice in the GP2 series and I find the track very nice. I especially used to enjoy turn eight a lot. With the Formula One car it will, of course, be physically demanding for the neck muscles, and turn eight will also be a special challenge for the front tyres. We will have to be careful with them. In any case I'm really looking forward to the Turkish Grand Prix and I want to bag my first points.”
Technical Director James Key says that managing the Pirelli rubber will be important at this race, particularly with the infamous turn eight, which puts a huge load through the tyres. Luckily, the Sauber car is acknowledged to be one of the best cars at conserving tyres, and so Key is hoping for more points in Istanbul. “Tyre management could be the key to the weekend of the Turkish Grand Prix,” he said. “As far as the car is concerned, we will have some more test items to run on Friday – some of them aerodynamic and some of them mechanical – which we hope to introduce to the car pretty soon. Apart from that it will be another weekend for us to target the top ten, both in qualifying and the race.”