Both Sauber drivers are wary that the C30 may struggle on the long straights at Monza during next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, but Kamui Kobayashi is still hopeful that he can banish memories of a disastrous race at the venue last season.
Despite a decent qualifying result in 2010, Kobayashi’s race lasted less than a lap after a technical problem. However, the Japanese driver is confident that, if the team can find the right set-up next weekend, he could score a decent result.
“Monza will be challenging, we have to find the best possible set-up for the car and see how fast we can go on the long straights,” explains Kobayashi. “Last year we qualified 12th, which wasn't too bad, because we expected difficulties there.
“Hopefully the race this year can be better. Last year I didn't manage to do the race because I had a technical problem, and I retired on my first lap after starting from the pit lane. But this year I am quite confident of doing a good race.
“I like Monza. I have driven quite a lot there because I did Formula Renault Italia. I have also done GP2, but that wasn't nice as I remember there was a lot of rain then. Anyway, I like the track and the town, as there are a couple of nice restaurants, it is quite close to Milan and it is always nice to go there as well.”
Like Kobayashi, Sergio Perez has also completed plenty of races at Monza but, for the Mexican, this weekend will be his first as an F1 driver.
“I'm very much looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix,” says the 21-year-old. “The track in Monza is one of my favourites. There I did what I regard as my best race weekend so far. It was in Formula 3 when I qualified 14th and won both races. In 2007 and 2008 I raced there in F3 and then also in GP2.
“The very long straights in Monza could be tough for us. I want to maintain a good rhythm with positive performances in qualifying and for the start. Then, of course, I want to finish the race and score points for the team. It is my aim to finish the European season on a high.
“The race weekend [at Monza] always has a very special atmosphere, and I can't wait to take part for the first time in the Formula One Grand Prix. I like the people in Italy a lot and, of course, I'm a fan of Italian food.”
Sauber technical director James Key explains that Monza provides all the teams with a unique challenge when it comes to car set-up. “Although the lap is quite simple, it's quite technical particularly with the downforce level you are running,” he says. “You need a well balanced car through these corners. It's also critical for braking, because the top speeds are by far the highest of the year, and you're braking down to a very low speed for the two chicanes. In addition, the kerbs play their role in these chicanes, although in recent years the amount of kerbs you can use has been limited a bit.
“So it has a lot of different aspects to it. Overtaking can be expected in two places, although we don't know yet how effective the DRS will be in such a low downforce setting. The tyres will be the soft and medium compound, as in Spa-Francorchamps. For the car we will have a modified front wing for low downforce settings and a rear wing specific to Monza.”