Sauber had a disappointing qualifying session for the first Indian Grand Prix in Delhi today, with Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi qualifying seventeenth and eighteenth respectively.
To make matters worse for the team, Perez will actually start from twentieth after he received a three-place grid penalty for a yellow-flag infringement during practice yesterday morning. This demotion will, however, move Kobayashi up into seventeenth.
“This was obviously a very bad qualifying for me,” said Perez. “After our performance in the third free practice this morning we were clearly expecting to do better in qualifying. The key problem was that we couldn't switch on the tyres to get them really to work. Knowing this, and given the fact that I had the grid penalty from yesterday, we decided to put only the used tyres on again in Q2, as it was better to save the fresh ones for the race.”
Kobayashi was the unlucky driver who bowed out of qualifying along with the drivers for the new teams. He is optimistic of showing better pace in the race tomorrow.
“The pace of the car was certainly good enough for Q2, I was convinced about it and I also think our race performance should be alright,” said the Japanese driver. “However, in qualifying it took me a lot of time to warm up the tyres, and then in the end I was unlucky. I had just started my final flying lap when Felipe (Massa) came out of the pit lane in front of me. Although there wasn't enough time left in the session for him to do another run he didn't give room.
“I am disappointed with today, but I will keep myself together and have a positive approach to the race. At least I have some fresh tyres left and this circuit offers opportunities for overtaking.”
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering at Sauber, acknowledged that the team’s pace relative to rivals seems to have dipped in recent races. However, he thinks that things will begin to improve soon.
“Lately we have been falling into a difficult situation performance wise,” he said. “Everyone in the team, in the factory and at the track has been working very hard to understand and fix these problems we have had since the last race. Despite having reviewed our approach quite a bit, so far it hasn't produced a significant improvement. We are definitely unhappy about the day. Still the race is tomorrow, and we will keep the motivation up and we will try to catch up as much possible.”