Sauber put their faith in young drivers for 2011

2011 F1 season preview

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#16Kamui Kobayashi
#17Sergio Perez
Form 2006-2010:5*, 2*, 3*, 6*, 8
*as BMW
2010 points:44

Sauber’s driver line-up invites comparisons with the past. The last time they had two such inexperienced drivers, with just one full season of F1 between them, was 2001.

Ten years ago, with Kimi Raikkonen in one car and Nick Heidfeld in the other, they finished a best-ever fourth in the constructors’ championship.

Are Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez a match for that pairing?

And will James Key’s C30 prove as effective as Sergio Rinland’s innovative twin-keel C20?

It certainly looked good for the team yesterday when Sergio Perez headed the testing times in Barcelona. But we all know to treat testing times with caution.

Still the team go into 2011 on a much surer footing than they did last year. Twelve months ago the team were still reeling from the BMW pull-out and the near-miss of almost disappearing from the grid entirely.

The technical side of the team is more settled and the new car was ready from the off. It’s accumulated a decent amount of testing mileage so far.

It may not have any eye-catching special features like fancy exhausts or a blade roll-hoop, but with Ferrari’s race-winning Kinetic Energy Recovery Ststem the team are well-equipped for the midfield battle.

The young driver pairing is classic Peter Sauber.

In a short space of time the name ‘Kobayashi’ has already become synonymous with gutsy overtaking moves. But his best finish last year came in a more ordinary race at Silverstone, showing there’s more than one side to his game.

Perez has mixed flashes of pace with inconsistency on his way up the motor racing ladder.

He brings backing from Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex with him but he has proved his potential in the junior formulae.

He was GP2 runner-up to new Williams driver Pastor Maldonado last year, despite Maldonado having two years’ more experience in the category.

This is a team that until recently finished in the top three in the championship two years running. The backing of BMW may have gone but Sauber’s potential remains.

With a pair of exciting young drivers they should be a team to keep an eye on in 2011.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “Sauber put their faith in young drivers for 2011”

  1. I really want Kamui Kobayashi to impress in this car and this season so he can get himself in the frame to drive for a bigger team.

    Come on Kamui!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I feel like I’m missing out because I really haven’t fallen for Kamui and he seems to be among most of the fans’ favourites. He’s exciting, seems a nice guy and I like his dare devil approach to overtaking but on a Saturday he was sometimes out shone by Pedro and when Nick came back after zero testing in a new car he was only a tenth off his time. Hopefully he’ll improve on his qualifying this year and I can eat my words.

    Perez seems like he could be quick too with some experience under his belt so good luck to him in his rookie year.

    Having such an inexperienced line up on paper doesn’t sound great for Sauber but it’s not the first time they’ve been in this position, they seem to be doing much better on the financial front so have a cushion and last year Pedro had been out of racing for a while and was new to the team and then Nick was thrown in at the deep end so in comparison this line up isn’t that much worse.

    1. Perez seems like he could be quick too with some experience under his belt so good luck to him in his rookie year.

      Look what i’ve found, i really want this perez on f1, maybe after the second half of the championship

      1. Nice skills, just GP2 isnt F1, but ill keep an eye on him, he’s got the attitude

      2. Looks like Perez likes Hockenheim…

        1. Thanks for the link!

      3. Hey, that’s pretty impressive. I’m more excited now!

        Peter Sauber is no fool when it comes to picking drivers.

  3. I am looking forward to see what they make of this car. It looks pretty neat, and even though they still had problems with the KERS in testing, I hope this will be solved by now.
    Perez looks like he might show some very nice racing as well, and he might do well in qualifying, where Kamui lacked a bit last year.

  4. I know that its not what the majority think, but i’d hardly call Kobayashi a skilled overtaker. He puts the car where it doesn’t belong and the other drivers have to move otherwise they will be taken out. As he progresses up the grid, I expect this tactic won’t work so well.

    I’d love the lineup to be as good as Heidfeld and Raikkonen, but im not sure any rookie lineup could be that good. Perez looks handy though.

    1. I know that its not what the majority think, but i’d hardly call Kobayashi a skilled overtaker

      I think he is skilled at overtaking but he does so much of it because his qualifying can be so horrendous he starts a lot further back than he should be so has slower cars in front but he makes the moves stick and I haven’t really seen anything dangerous from him minus the Nakajima incident.

      1. I’m thinking specifically of his Japan overtaking. They were banzai’s up the inside, and the other cars had to move or be hit. One of the Torro Rosso’s didnt move, hence the overtake was botched slightly.

        I’d agree that he needs to work on his qualfying too.

        In my opinion, he’s not as good as Sato is/was yet :)

        1. If I remember right Kobayashi went around the outside and it was Alguersuari that ran into him on the exit?

          In the end you have to make overtakes count where you can, there aren’t a lot of places to do it around Suzuka. I agree it’s more balls than skill though, I imagine there are a lot of drivers that wouldn’t have gone for the move under the same circumstances, but I dont think that reflects badly on him.

        2. I think the first time, Kobayashi kinda nudged Algersuari. So the second time, Algersuari decided he wasn’t going to have it and stuck to the inside like glue, leaving no space. So Koboyashi went outside. I’m not sure if Algersuari just realised too late what was happening, or if he felt silly for not being able to predict it was going to happen, but it was him banging into Kobyashi at that point, not the other way around.

          Kobayashi did dive into the inside quite aggressively on Buemi as well if I recall and possibly Barichello? And I can definitely see where you’re coming from, saying he was on the edge, at least. But I think the reason why people love him so much for it (bit strong perhaps, but you get what I’m trying to say with that), is that at least he was trying.

          And, over the course of the year, I can’t remember him taking anyone else off the track with his attempts (unlike some other people who attempted overtakes). Meaning that either the other drivers had time to see him coming and react (meaning they had left enough space for a move), and/or he judged the distances correctly and was just about this side of safe.

          1. +1 Great post!
            That’s exactly the way I saw it too.

        3. I can see where you’re coming from as he is quite forceful but personally I don’t see any of his moves as dangerous but he’s definitely aggressive. I don’t think he did anything wrong in Japan to be honest. When I watch the move with Jaime Kobayashi is doing everything fine and hold his line but Jaime seems to lose the plot and repeatedly drive into the Sauber.

  5. I find it amazing that there are discussions whether Kobayashi is decent at overtaking or not!

    I’m looking forward to seeing Maldonado v Perez this year. Especially if the Williams and Sauber are closely matched!

    1. If you can tell them apart, that is. They’ll both be in blue and white cars, with a hint of grey and red :(

      1. I don’t think you can miss Perez’ green and red helmet even if the cars will look exactly the same :)

        Anyway, good luck to Peter Sauber, Koba, Perez and all at the Sauber team. I’ve always liked them and I think they deserve some success!

  6. Keith, tiny typo on the front page prelude to this post.
    “Sauber’s driver line-up recalls their successful 2011 pairing of Kimi Räikkönen and Nick Heidfeld.”
    Should be 2001. For a moment, I really thought Kimi was back!

  7. I think they did really well last year all things considered. I’m sure alot of teams will be jealous of that driver line up.

  8. I don’t understand why some people think Kobayashi is rubbish at qualifying. Yes, he was beaten by de la Rosa sometimes, but whenever the car was good enough to be in the top 10 or thereabouts it was Kobayashi who got the job done.

    1. True, but compared to his team mates on race performance, you’d have thought that he’d be out-qualifying them substantially on a regular basis, which he wasn’t. He definitely has room to improve, which will make him a more complete driver.

  9. @Keith – just thought i’d say you said the sucessfull pairing of Räikkönen and Heidfeld from 2011 instead of 2001.

    Anyway, just thought i’d say that I think its good there relying on young drivers. I think rookies are always exciting to watch, Petrov crashing, Hulkenburg’s pole, Kobayashi being annoying and getting in the way of Button at Brazil 09 (not saying he was wrong to get in the way) etc, etc.

  10. First I thought that Sauber made a mistake taking two inexperience driver with them but looking at it this team have a very exciting pair. Their car looks good so far, we know what Kobayashi is good at.So waiting for another exciting season from the team.

  11. They have got a Red Bull and Ferrari fighter, I can see Kamui and Sergio grabbing points in Melbourne and perhaps Kamui winning at Suzuka. If McLaren cannot do well, Sauber is my 2011 team :-)

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