The Sauber F1 Team showed a strong performance in the opening race of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship. Kamui Kobayashi finished sixth at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, his team mate Sergio Pérez came home in eighth place.
Until the ultimate lap of an exciting race the internal order had been the other way round with Sergio in seventh and Kamui in ninth place. Another driver’s accident caused some difficulties for Sergio. Just the same as last year, the Mexican managed to get away with only one pit stop. He drove 34 laps on a set of soft tyres, while Kamui was on a two stop strategy.
Kamui Kobayashi, 6th, Sauber C31-Ferrari (Chassis 01/Ferrari 056):
Start on soft tyres, after 13 laps change to soft tyres, after 36 laps change to medium
“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.”
Sergio Pérez, 8th, Sauber C31-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari 056):
Start on medium tyres, after 24 laps change to soft tyres
“After I had to start last on the grid because of changing the gear box I knew I had to try everything to gain positions right after the start. 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.“
Peter Sauber, Team Principal:
“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.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
“It was a bitter sweet weekend. Qualifying was disappointing, but in the race we were able to show our true potential. I wonder if we could have done even better today, because we had to compromise a lot on the strategy due to the fact that both drivers were stuck in traffic and couldn’t make best use of the tyres. With Sergio we planned a flexible strategy which was a result of his grid position. Although we didn’t know before the race whether a one stop strategy could work, it was the only way to have the chance of scoring points. Sergio did a very good job conserving the tyres for a long time, and towards the end of the race I was really impressed how he was able to keep up with drivers who had much newer tyres. Kamui was on a “normal” strategy. Also for him in the beginning it was a bit frustrating with traffic, but in the end he was also able to score a great result. For sure we have to improve our qualifying performance, but the important fact is that we know that we have a good car.”