Sergio Perez was the star of the Japanese Grand Prix for Sauber today as the Mexican, who has been suffering from flu all weekend, finished eighth after starting from P17.
Team-mate and home favourite Kamui Kobayashi got off to a poor start, dropping from a career-high seventh-place grid slot to twelfth place, and could not recover. He eventually finished thirteenth.
“I am very happy for the team to have scored some points here in Japan, especially after we had that technical problem yesterday in qualifying and I had to start 17th but today the strategy with the tyres worked out very well for me, and the team did a very good job on this,” said Perez. Also the car's performance was good. I pushed very hard, and gave my maximum today. Physically it was very hard for me because I am suffering from flu, so I'm totally happy that I brought the car home in a position good enough to score points.”
Kobayashi explained that overtaking around Suzuka today was not as easy as it was last year but, on reflection, he still seemed fairly pleased with his weekend.
“It was a tricky race for me,” said the Japanese driver. “At the start when I released the clutch the car suddenly was in anti-stall mode, and that was why I lost five positions straight away. I tried to fight other cars then but overtaking wasn't as easy as it was here last year.
“Then the safety car came out in what was a bad moment for our strategy. I did my second stop when the safety car was out, we changed from the soft to the medium compound and with those tyres I then had to go to the end of the race – 29 laps. In the end they were just so bad that I couldn't defend my position anymore.
“Anyway, I had a good qualifying here and the car's performance in the race has definitely improved, so we will keep pushing at the remaining races. I am very proud of all the Japanese fans who are so excited about Formula One. They are a great crowd and for me it was a very emotional day.”
Team principal Peter Sauber was disappointed that Kobayashi did not finish in the points at his home race, but praised Perez on his superb drive.
“Everybody in the team hoped Kamui could score a good result in his home Grand Prix,” he said. “He would have deserved that after his strong qualifying performance, but then things went wrong at the start. He lost a lot of positions, and his aggressive strategy didn't work as a result of that.
“Sergio drove a brilliant race. Starting from 17th and finishing eighth says it all. He was aggressive and consistent at the same time. His result also proves that we made a clear step forward with our car, which is important for the upcoming races. Congratulations to Sebastian for a well-deserved world championship title after an outstanding season”