Sauber got both cars into the points in today's Australian Grand Prix but there was still an element of disappointment leaving Albert Park. Kamui Kobayashi finished sixth but Sergio Perez will feel he should have been the man inheriting that position after Pastor Maldonado's last lap accident.
The Mexican was one of the stars of the race as his one-stop strategy lifted him to second despite starting at the back of the grid. But halfway around the final lap, he made contact with Nico Rosberg and slipped to eighth, leaving him with Melbourne heartache for the second year running.
“After I had to start last on the grid because of changing the gearbox I knew I had to try everything to gain positions right after the start”, he commented. “I managed to get into 12th behind Kamui and touched his car while he had to avoid crashing into the Williams car in front of him. My front wing was then damaged and this was only one of the difficulties I had today during the race. I also had to save tyres, also for some time fuel, and I had to fight to defend my position. It really was a tough race for me. Then on the very last lap Pastor (Maldonado) crashed and I backed off because of the debris. But then Nico (Rosberg) overtook me, our cars touched and I had to finish the race with tyres that were completely gone. Of course I'm not happy to have lost my position on the final lap, but I am very happy for the team because finishing sixth and eight is a good start to the season.“
Teammate Kobayashi certainly wasn't complaining after gaining three positions on the final lap, a welcome slice of luck given the fact that he was disadvantaged by the safety car period.
“I am very happy – for the team and myself. Finishing sixth is a great start to the season. After the start I nearly crashed into Bruno (Senna) who spun in front of me. I was lucky to avoid hitting him, but at the same time Sergio could not avoid touching me and then I had to do the whole race with a damaged rear wing. This was very difficult and for sure cost car performance. However, after the first lap I had improved two positions. I was on a two stop strategy, with two sets of softs in the beginning and the medium compound for the last stint. With my second pit stop I had bad luck with the timing because the safety car came out just after I had pitted. Then I was running in ninth position until the ultimate lap when Pastor (Maldonado) crashed and Sergio had a battle with Nico (Rosberg). I went passed and finished sixth.”
Team Principal Peter Sauber praised both drivers and hopes to see this level of performance replicated as the season unfolds.
“Both drivers delivered a fantastic race, especially Sergio, starting from last and finishing eighth. However, this is only possible with a fast car. I'm very happy that we were able to fight back after a difficult qualifying. A big thank you to the team at the track and also the people back in Hinwil for designing a great car. We went into this season with high expectations and were able to deliver today.”