2011 Japanese GP team review
Sauber’s new parts helped Sergio Perez to an excellent eighth from 17th on the grid despite him being unwell.
|Kamui Kobayashi||Sergio Perez|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q1)||1’32.626 (-2.078)||1’34.704|
Sauber drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
|Pit stop 1||Soft 24.263s|
|Pit stop 2||Medium 22.299s|
Kobayashi had a busy Friday, running wide twice at Spoon curve then surviving a dramatic moment at 130R. The car snapped away from him at 300kph and he reacted in time to keep it out of the barriers.
He made the most of Sauber’s new upgrade to edge Adrian Sutil to claim the final place in Q3.
Cunningly the team sent him out for a banker run at the beginning of the session but did not set a time. This paid dividends as three other drivers also did not set times, allowing Kobayashi to qualify a career-best seventh despite not putting a lap in during Q3.
But he lost the advantage at the start as the car went into anti-stall mode and five cars passed him before the first corner.
Now 12th, he struggled to make progress and spent the first stint stuck behind Sebastien Buemi: “I tried to fight other cars then but overtaking wasn’t as easy as it was here last year.”
His first pit stop on lap ten was not very quick and he fell behind the other Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari, who was running long.
Kobayashi made his second stop during the safety car period, switching to medium tyres. Having progressed as far as ninth he attempted to finish the race on this set but began losing places with ten laps to go.
Both Force Indias plus Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg passed him, dropping him well out of the points.
He paid tribute to the Japanese crowd after the race: “I am very proud of all the Japanese fans who are so excited about Formula 1. They are a great crowd and for me it was a very emotional day.”
|Pit stop 1||Soft 21.655s|
|Pit stop 2||Soft 24.461s|
Perez was stymied by an hydraulic problem in Q2: “I lost everything, starting with the power steering. Therefore I could not go out in Q2, which is obviously disappointing.”
But despite suffering from flu, Perez brought the car home in the points.
He slipped back a place as Jarno Trulli passed him on lap three. But he claimed the place back four laps later and took the other Lotus on the next tour as the grip from his tyres improved.
He made it as far as lap 20 without pitting, by which time he was up to ninth place. He regained the place by staying out as others pitted during the safety car period.
Perez passed Petrov immediately after the safety car came in, then built up a gap as the Renault driver fell back and held up the chasing cars.
He came in for his final pit stop on lap 37 and passed his team mate and Pastor Maldonado, the latter at the hairpin, on his way back into the points.
Despite being unwell, he was still able to crack a joke with his team mate as he crossed the finishing line in eighth place, telling them “I lost power!” over the team radio.
Technical director James Key praised his efforts afterwards, saying: “Sergio drove a really strong race, and his pace was very good.
“His strategy was the opposite to Kamui’s, and it seems that this was the right way to go. He wasn’t helped by the safety car either, but his pace first on the medium tyre and then the soft tyres towards the end was very consistent, and it allowed him to make up many positions from 17th to eighth.
“He really did a fantastic job.”
2011 Japanese Grand Prix
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- 2011 Japanese Grand Prix: complete race weekend review
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Image © Sauber F1 Team