Kobayashi battles to eighth for Sauber’s first points

2011 Malaysian GP team review

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Kamui Kobayashi scored points in the Malaysian Grand Prix and this time the team were allowed to keep them.

Kamui KobayashiSergio Perez
Qualifying position1016
Qualifying time comparison (Q2)1’36.691 (-0.837)1’37.528
Race position7
Pit stops21

Sauber drivers’ lap times throughout the race:


Kamui Kobayashi116.818106.952105.888105.665105.734107.798106.124106.983105.739106.045106.24107.034107.123107.276107.209108.327112.179123.613103.305103.453103.566104.226104.835105.252104.58105.22105.402104.662104.448104.057104.883104.917105.738105.279106.12109.776122.584103.095102.095102.334102.758104.618102.308102.547103.355102.47102.126104.922102.934102.725103.321103.365103.938103.552104.005104.753
Sergio Perez120.065108.738107.417105.798105.78106.585106.527107.029106.89107.186107.447107.418109.262108.872110.306111.462114.012123.605103.298103.352103.408103.649104.091
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Sepang, 2011

Kamui Kobayashi

Just as team mate Sergio Perez used a one-stop strategy in Melbourne, Kobayashi made one fewer stop than most drivers and used it to pick up points in Sepang.

He spent the opening laps in a spirited battle with Mark Webber for ninth place. Kobayashi eventually got the better of the wounded, KERS-less Red Bull.

He stayed out until lap 17 on soft tyres – the longest of any driver – even as his lap times rose into the 1’47s. He delayed his second stop too and was passed by Michael Schumacher but, as he had with Webber, Kobayashi hit back with another smart re-pass.

He demonstrated the Sauber’s kindness to its tyres by staying out 19 laps on his second set of soft tyres, allowing him to polish off the remaining 21 on hards. Although he was passed by Vitaly Petrov he inherited eighth place again when the Renault driver crashed out.

He was later promoted to seventh by Lewis Hamilton’s penalty.

Kamui Kobayashi 2011 form guide

Sergio Perez

Perez lined up six places behind Kobayashi and ran a similar strategy.

His lap times early in the second stint looked promising but he hit a piece of debris but he was forced to retire: “Something came off S??bastien Buemi’s car, which was just in front of me, and hit the floor of my car.

“The fire extinguisher went off and the electrics cut out. It was a shame I couldn’t finish the race as the car felt good.”

Sergio Perez 2011 form guide

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

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    Image © Sauber F1 Team

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    Keith Collantine
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    33 comments on “Kobayashi battles to eighth for Sauber’s first points”

    1. Brillant drive by Kobayashi, I really enjoyed his many tusles and the quality of his overtakes and his defense. Really love the guy. Maybe not the fastest, but definitively defines “the show”.

      1. There is no reason why he wouldn’t be pretty rapid with a good car…he may not quite have the edge of alonso, vettel, hamilton, kubica; (the four drivers who I think of as being supremely talented, like them or not) but there is no reason why he isn’t easily as good as say button, maybe massa, etc – really solid drivers and easily talented enough to deservedly win a title with a good car.

        1. Because he is an asian he is not and can’t be??? After 2 yrs of racing then given a car like redbull i believe he is better than vettel.

          1. The exact impression I’m getting too, on both counts.

          2. I thoroughly resent that comment. Completely ridiculous, you are making insulting assumptions and putting either your or somebody else’s prejudices onto me. How on earth do you not know that I am of asian descent?!

            I am basing that on his general lack of qualifying pace through last season, and that Perez who is undoubtedly a very good driver but still a rookie, is not far off his in testing and the two races of this season. I also listen to comments from ex-racers, pundits and journalists who know a hell of alot more about what the people in the paddock (and they do know what they are talking about) than you or I.

            I put him up there with Massa and Button, two of my favorite racers on the grid, who between them have a huge number of admirers and a wealth of experience, numerous race wins and a world title. So I think actually I am saying I think he is damn good. Next time read my comments more carefully before reading prejudice into where there is none.

      2. He showed great skill for overtaking again. Very good drive.

        A shame for Perez, but at least it was not his fault, nor a mechanical issue.

    2. Great battle between a young gun with KERS and an old dog without KERS.

    3. “Although he was passed by pewtrlink” – Petrov?

      1. Sorry about that – have corrected the spelling.

    4. Well done Sauber.

      Really very nice to see then with such a strong showing this year – after Peter Sauber has to struggle to keep them even alive last year, they look to be in great shape, with a talented rookie and a great sponsor package.

      I was one of those armchair commentators moaning about pay drivers before the start of the season, but I think Sauber have the perfect example of why they can be a great thing, if they are good! Perez attracted endless admiring comments in Melbourne, and the sponsorship that comes with his driving has enabled the team to produce a pretty fast car. Not only does it have reasonable pace, but arguably more importantly it is very drivable; Kobayashi was able to do some great overtakes which would not have been possible in a car which he was not very comfortable with.

      Possibly my favorite team of the season so far. Deserve this after the disappointment of Melbourne. Also showed everyone out there that the wing which disqualified them really must have been what they said it was – a small factory error – since their car seemed very similar this weekend.

      All in all, I hope that soon they get a double points-finish soon and continue this form!

      1. I watched Perez through two full seasons of GP2 and he was very impressive, agressive when needed and controlled when circumstances dictated.

        Brilliant move by Sauber to sign him despite the pay driver criticisms. The team got the money and the driver they needed.If Carlos Slim expands his interest from a sponsorship to ownership role the team could be a real force.

        Great leadership, infrastructure, and human resource, all Sauber needs is operational funds to push towards the front. Hopefully Peter does not retire anytime soon.

    5. what happened to RIISE the guy who said Perez was better than Kobayashi ?

      1. give it half a season and we’ll see who is consistently the fastest! Perez has had, to paraphrase Brundel’s commentary on sunday, a harsh but very real baptism in F1. That is to say, a great drive, but suffers a disqualification, then has the makings of a good race the following GP yet suffers car failure through no fault of his, nor the teams, but debris on the track. Very unfortunate – and he must feel hugely frustrated!

      2. Kobayashi was generally faster in Australia anyway, but Perez’s strategy got him ahead. Perez is still very good and I think he can score a decent amount of points this year.

    6. Just a shame they insisted on two stops. It lost Kobayashi quite a bit of time in his first two stints and by the looks of it, he would have been ok doing three or four more laps on his last set of tyres.

      What’s most impressive is that he was battling throughout the race and made the tyres last. Excellent work by Sauber on the car design.

      1. His early battle with Webber cost him a lot of time, likewise those with Schumacher such that, he couldn’t make up lost time as such 2 stops ended up being the right option, anything else would still have resulted in the same position or one place further back as the available window for cars in the lower half of the top ten is not as wide as those running in front. Essentially if he had gone for 3stops, after his first stop he may have come out in 15th or 16th place. Webber had a fundamentally faster car than Kobayashi, as such he could make 3 or 4 stops work.

    7. Their car’s tyre management is just outstanding.

    8. Congrats to Kobayashi and Sauber! It’s a shame for Perez but they must be pleased to have some points already.

    9. Kobayashi is just fantastic. Shame about Perez because from what I’ve seen of him so far he doesn’t look a bad driver either!

      Sauber have a good line up there and as they mature I expect they may have to fight to stop them going to bigger teams!

      1. Although kobayashi is well known for his racecraft, he was weak in qualifying last season. So out qualifying the mecedes and other midfield teams was the most impressive part of his weekend for me

      2. Kamui’s banzai spirit at the end of 2009 had me excited about the new kid. However, his first few races of 2010 combined with Sauber’s problems had me worried he wouldn’t live up to his promise.

        From mid-2010 to now, Kobayashi has truly developed into a real racer. Aggressive and mature.

        Sauber has become my team and Perez is a very promising young addition. If the car can continue to improve and they can keep these two drivers for a few years Sauber could influence the constructor’s title race. Maybe not win it, but be enough of a factor to be a spoiler.

        It’ll be interesting to see where Kobayashi is at in his career in a few years. Then again, F1 will be running 1.4L turbo I-4s by then.

    10. With each race Kobayashi continues to make a believer out of me but I wonder if the conservative tire strategy is counter-intuitive to his agressive nature. I’d like to see Sauber run him on a balls out four stopper to explore the ultimate pace of the car.

      1. As we saw last year though, Sauber like to gamble on unusual tire strategies. It’s paid off on more than a couple occassions.

        1. Agreed Peter, not criticizing the strategy. I just want to see Kamui attack!

    11. What I admired most about Kobayashi’s drive was he only battled with cars when he felt he had the pace to do so, at other times he would just allow the cars past without losing himself time. It meant he could preserve his tyres and also lose the minimum amount of time instead of defending unnecessarily. A very mature drive from him, same thing he did in Australia.

    12. Kobayashi’s cold head is very often underestimated. People seem to think he’s some sort of Takuma Sato clone.

      The guy is a very strategic racer. Suzuka is a good example, great charge late in the race, overtaking and outbreaking included… the only reason we were able to see that was because he remained calm and consistent on hard tires more than half of the race.

      1. He is a very clever driver, can read a race well and makes risky over-takes look pretty textbook.

      2. That’s a very good point. I always liked Taku, but even after many years in F1 he never seemed to learn when to fight and when to back off.

        When I first saw Kobayashi at the end of 2009, and the way he battled Button and especially Nakajima I thought he was another Sato but with extra wasabi.

        After only a little more than 20 grand prix, Kamui has already developed into a very smart racer.

      3. Could not agree more. Also read Oliver’s post above, captures it very nicely. The thing that has always impressed me is that although he takes risks, even when he doesn’t pull it off, he very rarely ends up having crashed into the other car; he is hard and a fighter without being ridiculously aggressive. Have you ever heard another driver gaccuse him of being dangerous in a post-race de-brief? not really. Button was a little peeved in Sazuka 2009 but not angry…thats the only instance that I can remember…

    13. Good result for Sauber and Perez still has plenty to offer. Clearly they know what they’re doing with the tyres.

    14. Great job by Kobayashi and the Sauber team. Sauber has long been one of my favorite teams and I’m thrilled that they’re competitive this season. Perez seems to be doing a fine job as a rookie as well, and brings much needed funding.

    15. Kobayashi is doing what his team just want from him. Good qualifying & a good race. Bad luck for Perez he also could have been in a fighting chance of some points.

    16. Kobayashi will go places, as its been said, he is a very clever and very skillful, its one thing to try an overtake thats a little risky but quite another to not make contact and keep it on track if dont work out!! Immense car control in my book.

      As the car improves so will his performance so watch this space. I always said he would make a great driver and so far I was on the money, added to this he is an absolute joy to watch.

      Perez is a good driver too, makes me laugh in interviews as not the usual corporate clone some drivers are (a bit like Karun Chandok) but very talented if so far very unfortunate. Its still early days though, I can see a few battles between Perez & Kobayashi in the future.

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