Strategy gamble helps Kobayashi take seventh on last lap (Sauber race review)

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Valencia, 2010

Kamui Kobayashi rode his luck to take a terrific seventh place.

The highlight of his race were two bold passes in the final laps, taking Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi.

That elevated him to seventh, Sauber’s best result of the year to date.

Pedro de la Rosa Kamui Kobayashi
Qualifying position 16 18
Qualifying time comparison (Q1) 1’39.003 (-0.34) 1’39.343
Race position 12 7
Average race lap 1’46.614 (+0.289) 1’46.325
Laps 57/57 57/57
Pit stops 1 1

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Pedro de la Rosa

De la Rosa started 17th and swapped places with Jaime Alguersuari twice in the first two laps.

He gained five positions in the pits which left him tenth at the chequered flag. But he was one of the nine drivers found to have driven too quickly when the safety car was deployed, and his five-second penalty dropped him out of the points to 12th.

Compare Pedro de la Rosa’s form against his team mate in 2010

Kamui Kobayashi

The weekend started badly for Kobayashi as he was knocked out in the first part of qualifying. Sauber split the strategies between their drivers, starting Kobayashi on medium tyres and not pitting him under the safety car.

This instantly elevated the Sauber driver to third place, which he held despite having the reigning world champion breathing down his neck.

Kobayashi resisted Button before finally coming in for his mandatory pit stop after 53 laps on the same set of tyres. He switched to super-softs for the final laps and came out with Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Buemi in his sights.

On the penultimate lap he dived past Alonso at turn 17, who seemed to think Kobayashi was too far behind to make a pass and hadn’t covered the inside of the corner.

A lunge down the inside of Buemi at the final corner also paid off, allowing Kobayashi to take a remarkable seventh place:

It was great racing there at the front, but it was not easy either because I had Jenson Button close behind me all the time, and also I had to look after my tyres. I was careful not to overdrive them.

After my pit stop I had only four laps to make use of my fresh tyres. At this moment I had better grip than anybody else, and I felt I had to make the most out of it.

Of course it was a risk to overtake Alonso and Buemi. If it hadn?t worked out and I had crashed I would have been in trouble.
Kamui Kobayashi

Compare Kamui Kobayashi’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 European Grand Prix

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43 comments on “Strategy gamble helps Kobayashi take seventh on last lap (Sauber race review)”

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  1. I’m a big Kobayashi fan, so I’m proud he finally got the result he deserves.

    1. I had not been before, but this is great driving. Making the strategy gamble work and those wonderfully opportunistic passes in the last laps.

      1. not much of a gamble i think. start on the hard tyres and do a long stint. there’s no risk element really. just great driving.

        1. Gotta love this guy. He’s such a plucky racer. I’m sure the sponsors will flock to him in time.

          @Sato No element of risk? Doing 95% of the race distance on one set of tires? Come on, this year the tires have been all over the shop. Only the last race in Canada, the options only last 7 laps for some drivers. There was certainly some risk. Certainly if the tires had fallen away, he would have been fodder. Fortunately the tires held good, and it all worked out.

          Gotta love seeing him overtake Alonso, and the move on Buemi was awesome :)

    2. He is making a great start to his F1 career…. he’s really doing well and isn’t afraid of any of the big players.

      This strategy worked well because of this being a track where overtaking is difficult.

      Other drivers (Jensen ?) who are kind to their tyres – staying out a long time from the start could be the way to go at certain tracks.

  2. Well done to Sauber. Both drivers have done well.

    1. the sauber would look such a good car if it had a proper paint job with sponsors

  3. LucaBadoerFan
    28th June 2010, 16:03

    i was absolutely elated for kobayashi finally being able to show us more of the same in his two races last year for toyota. a superlative drive by him, and a brilliant strategy by the sauber team. brilliant stuff. though, it’s a shame pedro got relegated to twelfth.

    1. Kobayashi showed his talent last year in Toyota, especially at Brazil when he held Button behind him for a long time, Button did overtake him but for a rookie that was a big task. That’s when I knew this guy has talent. In the press conference after Valencia GP, Button said Kobayashi’s speed was fine…The guy was racing a Sauber with a Mclaren. Awesome Job…

  4. By accident or design it seems Sauber have stumbled upon a great strategy:if you are running towards the back and your tires will take the pain then stay out as long as you can, then put some super softs on with a v light car and go for it. really enjoyed watching Kobayashi but suggestions that Button should be embarrassed for not taking him are daft as Kobayashi always had to come in and Jenson knew he didnt have the pace of Lewis.

    Also great for the Sauber team after the mess BMW left them in

    1. I’m sure Jenson would have got past Kobayashi if he could, he didn’t stay behind because of doubts of keeping up with the leaders.

      Button was kept behind by Kobayashi who defends his position well on a tight street circuit, where it is still tricky to pass unless you have a big advantage like fresh tyres, or your opponent is suffering with something like damaged aero.

      1. Button was probably anticipating Kobayashi coming in earlier and leaving ~20 laps at least for him to chase the leaders. Button would have been saving fuel and tyres for this eventuality and hence not pressing Kobayashi too heavily (and maybe he remembered Kobayashi’s duel with him in Brazil). In the end, maybe Button benefited by gaining enough time with his additional fuel/tyres in the last few laps to overcome a potential/actual safety car penalty. And set fastest lap.

        But on the Sauber topic, what fun that was. It affected so much of the race, allowing VET and HAM to coast along and preserve their cars without real threat from behind, allowing HAM to avoid real penalty for his safety car infraction, keeping the other top teams in check, making the last few laps more exciting than the first two Valencia GPs combined, getting another team on TV for a change.

        Hope Sauber get some sponsor dollars from all that exposure.

  5. Seems that strategy worked well for him. Of course it wasn’t an option for the other front runners, you can’t predict a safety car and doing Q3 on the harder tyres would drop them to the midfield for the start. Still, expect to see more of the back half of the grid starting on the harder tyres from now on!

  6. Just curious, has anyone done the numbers to see if pitting on the last lap would have worked out safer/better?

    The Sauber pitbox is just before the finish line as I recall.

    I think the nice pair of trademark Kamui overtakes on fresh rubber swing it, but not having to travel half a pitlane on the limiter, or spend a sector getting tyre temp, I wonder how close the call actually was?

    Maybe the tyres had finally given-up, and I guess in the end, the Sauber strategy computer knew what it was doing.

    1. Hmm.. I wonder if there is a rule against this.. Pitting on the last lap and crossing the finish line in the pits while having just changed your tyres…

      seems like to much of an advantage for there not to be a rule against it, but you never know with the Swiss-cheese rules of the FIA.

    2. Just curious, has anyone done the numbers to see if pitting on the last lap would have worked out safer/better?

      Zoom into the last six laps on the race progress chart and you can see it wouldn’t have helped. He wasn’t drawing away from Buemi and Alonso quickly enough and Sutil was never catch-able for him:

      1. As Glenn says, Hmmm. From a cursory glance at the times:

        Kamui loses net 15 seconds on the pitlane and tyre change, he crosses the timing line with a 1:55, as opposed to the stream of 1:40s he had been pumping in.

        (The next lap is 5 seconds slower, that’s effectively the time from the finish line, to rest of pitlane, and then to get up to speed … 5 seconds is a healthy gain by stopping on the last lap).

        When he pitted, he was a very consistent 18 seconds ahead of Buemi. So he didn’t actually need to drive away, just keep that gap.

        Assuming the tyres weren’t shot, and from all the previous times, they didn’t appear so, he would have been classified roughly 3 seconds ahead of Buemi/Alonso, no???

        No release into traffic, into rivals dirty air, no risky pair of overtakes to gamble on, and in all that clear running space between the McLarens, there is a very, very remote chance to maybe make things uncomfortable for Sutil, but I doubt it.

        Of course, that’s all assuming … leaving the pitbox and staggering over the “other” side of the timing-line actually counts as a valid change of tyre compound. Otherwise this is all nonsense.

        Either way, some nice points and good TV time for a team that has had a hell of a time of it.

        1. Bugger, checked again, was actually nearer 16 seconds the gap …. that’s too close.

          The computer was right, stick the new boots on and let Kamui take them both to the cleaners.

  7. Brilliant drive for KOBA. I won’t say that if he just got there by luck, but he drive his car during the middle of the race to its brink. Many a times getting Purple S2 and matching the pace of Hamilton in front, on Medium tires that had 30+ laps on them.

    And then at the end passing two slower cars on the last two laps… This guys drives for all, with big balls to pull of moves on the anyone regardless of their name or their resume.

    For that, I will always be a fan. I hope he gets a faster car later this year or next year to prove his worth in F1, as a top overtaker.

  8. An awesome drive by Kobayashi. It deserved a podium, but 7th place isn’t all that bad.

    He was able to keep Button behind him pretty easily. Agreed Valencia isn’t the easiest to ovetake, but still, Sauber + old tyres + rookie was better than Mclaren + new tyres + world champion for close to 35 laps. Amazing stuff!!

    Shrewd strategy by Peter Sauber too.

    1. No… he isn’t better than Button. He kept Button behind him easily probably because Button thinks that it isn’t worth the risk to try overtake in this tight Valencia circuit.

      You must remember that Sauber race pace at that time is probably on par with the midfield runner. The fact that Alonso can’t overtake anyone suggest that trying to overtake in Valencia is very difficult. Alonso tried hard to overtake but didn’t succeed and probably ruin his tyres in the process. Compare that to Button when Kobayashi pitted, he can set the fastest lap of the race. If Button were in Alonso position, I’m sure he will have enough rubber to defend Kobayashi easily because he isn’t stupid enough to attack other drivers on Valencia with similar strategy. And not to mention the probability of him to have enough rubber to overtake Buemi at the end of the race.

      Yes, Kobayashi drive is great… easily the best driver of the day, but you’re giving him to much credit by saying that he is better than Button.

      1. I do not say he is ‘generally’ better than Button.

        But yesterday, he was indeed better than Jenson. Better than Hamilton, Alonso and even Vettel!! Only yesterday, not in ‘general’. I hope I made myself clear.

  9. Best bit of the race. Wonderful drive from Kobayashi.
    Put a huge smile on my face.

    I would love to have heard the language in Alonso’s helmet at that stage.
    It must have been the final straw for him.

  10. Force Maikel
    28th June 2010, 18:07

    was lauging verry hard when he beat alonso

  11. That was really a fantastic finish to a fairly interesting Valencia race. Delighted to see the Kobayashi of Toyota 2009 return to his fighting ways. Last year we got to see him overtake Button in his first race, now we see him overtake Alonso, and Buemi in the final corner was really a fantastic drive.

  12. kobayashi can make a pass on anyone. I hope he gets a better ride next year.

  13. Definitely the Driver of the day, Kobayashi. Overtaking Alonso was a highlight of the race, which was surprisingly action packed. He showed again that he deserves a better car. But good to see Sauber getting some points.

  14. Jhonnie Siggie
    29th June 2010, 0:39

    Now that Mr. Kobayashi has shown us what is possible, we might see more people trying strategies like this, especially when top drivers are caught in bad positions during Quali.

    1. Schumacher should probably have mirrored this strategy, he was third before he pitted for softs and ended up waiting for the red light/field to pass.

  15. Kyle Bebji – so what team would you like to see him race for next year then?

    I would like to watch him grow with sauber, but if he was to switch teams I wouldn’t mind if he went to Renault and replaced Vitaly (as well as Vitaly’s driving)

  16. The day kobayashi gets a front runner car, is the day we get a new champion.
    F1 needs more aggresive drivers like him.

    1. I think Hamilton and Kobayashi seem to be cut from the same cloth. They’re racers, even if they’re not the fastest drivers on the circuit.

  17. Kobayashi will be the first Asian champion sooner or later. No one can stop him. And he’s bloody good. Agressive but fair. A hearty congratulations to Kobayashi. Now, Mr. Peter Sauber – is it the car or the driver?

    1. I think Sauber is fully with you on that, think about what he said about the Ferrari engines and the “goodbye gift” BMW and Willy Rampf set him up with.

      I would Love to see a giant Whopper on the Sauber engine cover from Silverstone onwards!
      Or some special occasion Sushi or Paella Burger?

      They must be happy about the ROI on that sponsoring effort.

  18. I’m not impressed with Kobayashi at all. He was the slowest of all F1 cars in Q1. He’s just lucky with the safety car, that’s all. There are much better and less kamikaze drivers out there.

    1. … dumbstruck. You didn’t see him last year then?

      In a sport where people complain about the lack of overtaking. He’s a fighter.

      He’s new to F1, but he’s showing his talent better than a raft of other new drivers. It would be interesting to see him in a Renault instead of Petrov.

      1. I’d like to add to that; If Mark Webber could overtake like Kobayashi… that would be an excellent driver :)

        Sadly I think webber needs to fit some bull bars on the front of his motor… I assume they would be painted red.

  19. Kobayashi. I am a huge fan. The most exciting driver to watch in the field at the moment. Sure, he hasn’t got the car to show it, usually. But when he goes, he goes! He reminds me what it was like to watch Schumi in the old days. And Schumi at Montreal this year. Heavily defensive driving. Loved it!

    Sometimes I wonder what the hell people are talking about, when they complain about aggressive driving. IT’S WHAT WE WANT!!!

    Well, me at least.

    That’s why Vettel crashing into Webber was good for the sport (although not the team). It showed two drivers refusing to give. That gets your heart pumping.

    Anyway, back to the topic thread:

    Come on, Kamui! Come on, Sauber!

    1. Agreed. We want a spectacle right? The guy does two great overtakes at the end of the race, and someone shouts out ‘reckless’..

      I think we can agree that there will always be a divergence of agreement.

    2. Charles Carroll
      29th June 2010, 13:43

      I completely agree! I openly admit that this is really my first year in the sport, and I have been doing a lot of reading of its history during this time as well. But one thing is for sure, I came because I wanted to watch exciting racing.

      If it were not exciting, I wouldn’t watch. Pure and simple!

      That is why I enjoyed Kamui’s race, and yes, even Vettel’s ill-fated pass on Webber at Istanbul. To me, aggressive racing with winning as the only goal is what this sport should be about.

  20. Kobayashi was fantastic! He’s earned himself a fan in me. His move on Alonso was the best part of the race for me.

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