Peter Sauber hailed Kamui Kobayashi’s performance in the European Grand Prix as “amazing”.
The Japanese driver claimed seventh place after pulling off two overtaking moves in the final two laps, one on Fernando Alonso.
The team owner said:
I can only think of one word for it – amazing!
I was obviously thrilled by his two overtaking moves at the end of the race, but what impressed me most was how Kamui mastered his long stint on the hard tyres.
At times he was setting some of the fastest lap times of any driver, but still managed to look after his tyres. He also drove very consistently and didn’t allow himself to be put under pressure by Jenson Button.
Signing a rookie is always something of a risk; on Sunday Kamui delivered confirmation that we made the right decision.
The team believe they are starting to make progress with their C29 which has fluctuated in its performance from track to track and has had several reliability problems.
These kinds of lap times are only possible if both the driver and the car are quick; there’s no other way. The C29 has a huge amount of potential, but it doesn’t make it easy for our engineers and drivers to fully exploit this potential every time.
When I compare our qualifying performance in Valencia with the lap times in the race, I can’t work it out.
Technical director James Key said the team are working on improving the car’s qualifying performance after drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Kobayashi lined up 16th and 18th in Valencia.
When a driver finds himself in a competitive position like that he always finds something more in himself because he’s following quicker cars. And Kamui did a very good job.
The race also showed that the car works when it’s in the right conditions, but the question we have and we had for several of the last races is why the car is more competitive in race conditions than qualifying.
The drivers report that the car is easier to drive in the race, and tyre degradation wasn’t a problem either, so we weren’t particularly hard on the tyres. We need to look into the data, now that both drivers delivered a competitive race after a qualifying that was not up to our expectations.
We need to pin down the differences in how the car is feeling and handling and see how we can apply that to qualifying.
Sauber are last of the established teams in the championship with all their seven points scored by Kobayashi so far this year. Their Valencia score has moved them to within three points of Toro Rosso.