Sauber retain Kobayashi and Perez for 2012

2012 F1 season

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Peter Sauber, Kamui Kobayashi, Sergio Perez, Sauber C30 launch, Valencia, 2011

Sauber has confirmed Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez will remain with the team for 2012.

It will be Kobayashi’s third season with the team which he joined at the beginning of last year.

Peter Sauber said: “We are very pleased with our drivers.

“Kamui has grown into his role extremely well this year. Though it is only his second full Formula One season, he is already taking on the responsibilities that naturally fall to the more experienced driver in the team.

“We are delighted with him at both a sporting and a personal level. We had an option of working with him in 2012 and there was never any doubt that we would take it.

“Sergio has achieved more than one could expect from a rookie. From the very first race he proved that he is capable of driving not only fast but consistently as well.

“And after the accident in Monaco he demonstrated that he can handle difficult situations too. From the outset we had already signed a contract with Sergio that went beyond 2011. With a rookie that always entails a certain risk, of course, but clearly it has paid off.”

Kobayashi said he was “very proud” to remain with the team for another season.

“I want to thank Peter Sauber and Monisha Kaltenborn for putting their faith in me and the guys for all their work. In 2010 we had a very difficult season and some tough times. We managed to overcome this because we are a strong team.”

Perez said: “I want to thank Peter and Monisha that they trust me.

“Of course it is very good to have continuity and this way I can intensively prepare with my race engineer for what will be my second Formula 1 season. But for now I’m concentrating on finishing this season on a high. The summer break will be very good for me because since my accident in Monaco it has been a busy time.”

Esteban Gutierrez will continue as the team’s test and reserve driver.

See the full list of 2012 F1 drivers and teams

Image © Julien Leroy /

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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81 comments on “Sauber retain Kobayashi and Perez for 2012”

  1. Good move, Kobayashi and Perez have both done great jobs this year. Hopefully Sauber can repay them by giving them an even better car next year.

    1. Agreed – once again Sauber proving to be one of the best teams at selecting and developing new talent.

    2. Yes, only reason for changing would have been if one of them went “upstairs”, these guys will be amazing with another year of experience under their belts.

      Its also interesting to note, that drivers now tend to get into longer contracts currently.

  2. Excellent. They’re both great young drivers. I just really hope Sauber can produce a car for next year that’s capable of at least tickling the podium every now and again.

  3. It surprises me that this announcement has come so very early – but both drivers have made sterling efforts and Perez has made quite an impact in his first year (both on F1 and the Monaco barrier!). Kobayashi is an amazing talent, his ability to drag the car into the points, nearly without exception, is quite astounding. I’m sure he’ll be in a top car soon enough, but I think Sauber is still the place to be for him. All in all, very pleased with the announcement.

    1. Keep the talent so that a schumacher less Mercedes drive or a Renault drive don’t take them.

      Unlikely, but signing them early is a sure sign and should give the drivers a good feeling

  4. Which is better kobayashi or perez????????

    1. The New Pope
      28th July 2011, 18:59

      It is a bit early to tell for Sergio, so at this point, Kamui has the edge due to experience. In the long run, however, it may work out differently. They are certainly both talented drivers, and probably the most evenly matched teammates on the grid today.

  5. This, and the recent announcement of Glock’s contract extension, suggests we’re not going to see any changes among the top teams.

    Montezemolo has said Ferrari will keep Massa, effectively ending doubt he might get shunted aside in another Raikkonen-type situation, and there are already rumours Webber and Red Bull have agreed terms for 2012.

    Now the teams lower down the order are firming up the contracts with the most favoured drivers as it becomes clear there will be few if any options to trade up next year.

    Still not clear what will happen at Renault with Kubica though. Boullier has been dropping hints about Grosjean recently and you could hardly blame him for being dissatisfied with his current line-up, though Petrov brings money and has a 2012 deal.

    Then there’s the question of whether Hülkenberg will find a place on the grid for next year as well.

    In many ways, I think we’re seeing an extended period of stability in the driver market after the seismic changes at the end of 2009.

    1. This, and the recent announcement of Glock’s contract extension, suggests we’re not going to see any changes among the top teams.

      With Kobayashi and Perez staying for 2012, half the grid is now full. Well, eleven of the twenty-four seats; close enough.

      I can’t see too many driver changes for 2012, aside from one of the Renaults.

      1. …always expect changes at HRT! Virgin’s second seat is up for grabs still. I think Williams will retain both drivers.

        Vijay Mallya says he will make a decision on December 15th (very precise!) – presume that will stay the same though, unless Sutil really screws up later on.

        Where Ricciardo slots in could be the main point of interest though.

        1. Virgin’s second seat for 2012 will either get filled by d’Ambrosio or Robert Wickens. Wickens does have the better racing record, but d’Amrosio hasn’t been doing that bad of a job for a rookie. He is ahead of Glock in the standings, but so was di Grassi…

          Virgin will likely start putting Wickens into the car for FP1 after the summer break, just to see how he stacks up against d’Ambrosio and Glock.

    2. I’m not sure why Boullier is unhappy with his line-up. At best the Renaults can finish around 7th or 8th on merit, which is where mostly Heidfeld and Petrov have finished. If Boullier seriously believes that the car is good enough for 3rd or 4th, then he is delusional.

      1. Petrov tends to finish lower than he qualifies and Heidfeld tends to qualify below the car’s level.

        1. It’s not always Heidfeld’s fault that he qualifies so badly though, he’s had a lot of bad luck.

          1. right

          2. You make your own luck. If heidfeld keeps being blocked it is be becuase either he didn’t leave sufficient gap from the car in front or the team sent him out in the wrong place.

        2. Exactly. Kubica was mixing in with the top teams last year. Petrov has improved, but is not as strong as he should be/possibly would have been with Kubica. Heidfeld’s also been very unreliable, and has missed out on Q3 too often.

    3. Keith, is there any more info on the Hulkenberg situation? I heard on the BBC coverage that he is fancied for one of the Force India seats next year?

      That could be a really tough decision because Di Resta has had a great start to his F1, but a huge amount of bad luck recently, and Sutil may have started slowly but his performance on Sunday at the ‘Ring shows that he is a solid F1 driver.

    4. Such a good summary definitely deserves COTD :D

      1. Thank you! Don’t expect I’ll get it, though :-)

        1. in that case, whoever chooses COTD clearly has no idea… :P

    5. It certainly looks like this is the sealing off of deals that were only waiting for chance options on something bigger to get closed.

      Renault stated they have Kubica and would take Grosjean, so they are more or less settled for next year.

      Only STR, Lotus and Virgin might have one seat they will want to change, as for HRT, I guess that will be certain during the winter testing approximately.

      1. I’d love to see Kubica and Grosjean at Renault, but can’t imagine that happening, they’ll probably want some stability. Though as Keith points out, Petrov has certainly been unimpressive post Australia.

    6. I don’t think Hulkenberg will be on the grid next year, from what I saw in 2010 he’s no better thhan Sutil or di Resta and doesn’t bring money, unlike Sutil, and di Resta who I think brings a reduction on engine and KERS prices from

    7. Hulkenberg’s place in FI may depend on whether Schumi will go on to complete his contract of 3 years or not. If not then maybe DiResta would move to Mercedes and Hulkenberg slot in beside Sutil.

      1. I think it’s more likely Hulkenberg would go to Mercedes, they seem to be enjoying their all-German lineup.

    8. Top teams will keep their drivers. Mercedes also, Renault may keep Petrov and leave Heidfeld. HRT might have two different drivers, Virgin one, maybe Sutil will leave FI, not much more.

      1. unlikely after last weekend

  6. I’m taking this as proof (in all but name) that Webber and Massa will be staying with their respective teams next year. Kobayashi and Perez are held up as the most-likely candidates for Red Bull and Ferrari.

    1. They were held up by a lot of people on the internet, but personally I doubt there was little, if any, of it based in reality. Perez is too inexperienced for Ferrari and the ‘Kobayashi is Japanese, he’ll be good for Red Bull marketing’ argument was flimsy to say the least.

      Not that I don’t agree that Massa and Webber are probably staying with their teams.

      1. Until today they were, however, the highest-ranked drivers with no plans for 2012. It’s only natural to assume that if a seat was opened up at one of the front-running teams, then Kobayashi and Perez would be the first drivers considered to fill those vacancies.

  7. I agree that the main teams will maintain their current line-up. The Renault situation is more complex though, as you say. They are reportedly unhappy with Heidfeld – but who else would want to keep a seat warm for a few races before Kubica returns next year? Also, will Kubica be his old self? If he does return and Petrov beats him – then is his place safe? In fact – is Petrov’s seat even safe? I hope so as he has impressed me this year, much more consistency…

    1. I’m really interested to see how Kubica goes to as well. Take Massa for instance, he was pretty woeful all last year after coming back and is only recently finding some form, but still no where near his 2008 pace.

    2. i agree kubica is kinda lottery for renault..many driver come back from the accidents but they arent quite the same .No one knows until he get back to f1 and drive the car

      1. What about schumacher had that crash at silverstone 99.
        Next year world champion

  8. Good pairing at Sauber, but Perez is ultimately destined for Ferrari.

    Other drivers whose 2012 seats are ‘uncertain’ are Heidfeld, Trulli, D’Ambrosio. Not seen much from those 3 drivers, despite the wide range of their experiences in the sport.

    1. D’Ambrosio is a rookie, what experience?… I hope he can prove himself next year in a better car. He is not doing bad against Glock this year…

      1. That’s what I meant; ranging from Trulli: practically a veteran to D’Ambrosio, a rookie.

        But I agree with you about his performance with respect to Glock, not too bad.

  9. OK, so one more year in a middle-level team for KK. I am a bit… disappointed. I would have loved to see him in the LRGP.
    I always hope that the Sauber will play 1st violin soon, but even with KK and SP’s very good results, they remain in the 2nd group.

    1. Agreed, I believe Kobayashi has deserved at least a Mercedes drive. On the other hand, there are a couple of drivers (Glock, Kovalainen) who are arguably as good as KK and they even don’t have a car that they could fight for points with. But I think 2013 should bring some remarkable changes to the grid, let’s wait and see.

      1. Heikki had a chance in a championship winning car in ’08, he is a very likeable driver but I would rather see Kobayashi in a quicker car.

    2. I was sure that Sauber was going to retain Kobayashi and Perez, as they are both stellar drivers. But I was hoping for one of the top teams to try and atleast poach Kamui. RB, Ferrari and Mclarenwant to stick with their current line ups, but I’m pretty sure Kamui would do a better job than both the Renault drivers and would definitely do a better job than one of the Mercedes drivers.

      1. Yes, move Britney to HRT!

        1. Or to Mickey Mouse Club :D

  10. It will be announced Webber to stay at RBR this weekend I bet.

  11. I’m thinking this news is better for Sauber than it is for Kobayashi. I believe he is ready for a top seat now and was hoping to see him in one next year.

    1. You’re not the only one mate; I’ve been hoping to see Kamui getting a chance at Ferrari, even if it was just a test.

      I know they’ve got plenty of development drivers but I reckon Kamui could do great things if he was given a few seasons in a top team and I’d love to see someone with his driving style in a Ferrari !

  12. Perez will replace Massa after his contract ends.

    They were happy to pay off Raikkonnen in order to get Alonso, but paying off Massa in order to get Perez? Daft.

  13. Hopefully, Kobayashi (and his manager?) can draw in some more substantial money from Japanese companies now that he is the only Japanese asset in F1 and is actually looking like he just needs a step up in equipment. That would be good for Sauber, for F1 as a whole, but most importantly, it would make him more attractive as well.

    Short of that, I’d have to say that was a no-brainer for both Sauber and Kobayashi/Perez to re-sign. I think both drivers and team have done a very good job this year so far. It’d just be nice if sponsors cottoned on to that as well and started pumping some money into the team to allow it to drag itself up the grid.

  14. Sergio Perez
    28th July 2011, 12:19

    I think that this is a clever move by Sauber. I believe this is more to secure a “transfer fee” from any transfer of one of them to a top team. Remember, Ferrari announced a “shootout” between Perez and Bianchi, I think there’s something in there.

    Kobayashi is one of my favorite drivers on the grid, but, unfortunately, I don’t see any team showing interest for him. I would LOVE to see him on Webber’s Red Bull Seat. It would definitely open doors for Red Bull in Japan. I heard somewhere Panasonic or Toyota backed up Kobayashi’s entry in Sauber, I don’t know if Red Bull having Infinity sponsorship (Nissan) is a hurdle or a good sign for a future move for him.

    Either way, Sauber just warranted with this signings that if the drivers switch teams, they are going to get something for it. Of course if negotiations break they get to keep two of the most talented young drivers on the grid. Great move, definitely.

  15. Personally I’m disappointed that there isn’t going to be a seat at one of the top teams next year for Kamui. but with most of the top places being retained by their incuments, there isn’t a lot of opportunity. So I think Sauber and Kobayashi have made the right decisions.
    This time next year, I’m sure we’ll see more driver changes with contracts winding up at one team and the end of a three-year experiment at another. That’s when we’ll a big change in the field. Buit I think next year’s grid is going to look remarkably similar to this year’s. The only real unknown is whether Kubica will make an effective return or not.

  16. Sauber always surprise me how he is good at finding good rookies. as Keith said recent announcement shows top teams will retain current line up. so Sauber is not bad for Kobayashi and Perez. I think they usually made fair car. It’s not enough to get on the podium but some 4th or 5th is possible if some events happen.

    1. A podium in Japan would be so nice though for KK …

  17. Red Bull should have grabbed Kobayashi. The drinks company may well have seen exponential growth in Japan (just a guess – I know nothing about the realities of the soft drinks markets). Goodness knows what Koba could do with that car! But I guess the top teams like it that there is a main driver and a second driver (WEB/MAS/BUT) not quite good enough to challenge the main driver – at least most of the time.

    Personally, though, I am very pleased he’s staying at Sauber. Love Sauber! Love Koba!

  18. Not really sure why people are ‘disappointed’ – as much as it would be nice, there was no chance in hell of Kamui moving up. There’s just no space.

    1. yes, saddly.
      I was secretly hoping for M. Webber to retire, and see Mr Kobayashi in the Red-Bull :-)

    2. “There’s just no space.”
      And that’s what I find a bit disappointing. We seem to have three dominant teams with drivers locked in for at least another year, so that means that the upcoming drivers from ‘mid-field’ teams have no where to go. So unless a mid-field team finds significantly improved performance next year (or there is a crash or rain-induced disaster), we will probably see the next thirty GPs shared between six drivers.

      1. The New Pope
        28th July 2011, 19:02

        True, but as we know with Robert Kubica, racing is a dangerous and volatile career/lifestyle. Anything can happen one moment to the next, and what will be, will be.

        1. I will not contemplate a seat becoming available at one of the top three, or indeed any of the teams because of the serious injury or incapacity of one of the incumbents . . .
          And no, “what will be, will be” determinism doesn’t work for me either.

          1. The New Pope
            29th July 2011, 3:00

            It wouldn’t be the first time.

  19. Keith was wrong to say that top teams will retain current line up. Want to say that lot of drivers line up will change in the four top teams, and lot of drivers contracts are not sorted out for next year.

  20. Webber??????
    Button??????? Massa?????? Rosberg????? plus Michael??????????? and more.

    1. I doubt Schumacher wants to drive anywhere else anymore and have to start from scratch yet again. If he leaves Mercedes, it’s because he stops driving. Which doesn’t seem likely.

      Rosberg will stay. Because there’s nowhere to move up to.

      Massa will try his hardest to stay. Because I don’t think either of the other two top teams will want his services. So there’s nowhere to move up to, or stay at the same level.

      Webber will stay. Because I don’t think either of the other two top teams will want his services. So there’s nowhere to move up to, or stay at the same level.

      Which means that:

      Button will stay, because there’s nowhere to move up to, or stay at the same level.

      Hamilton will stay, because there’s nowhere to move up to, or stay at the same level.

      Which means that there’s no top seat for any up and coming drivers to promote into. Basically, Massa and Webber have the driver’s market for the top teams locked. If/when they move, the rest will start moving. But it doesn’t seem likely that will be at the end of this season.

      1. Exactly.

  21. I really wanted to see Perez come to Ferrari, but they’ll both be with the big boys in a few years.

  22. Massa have no seat for ferrari next year look at his performes,so webber to ferrari or Rosberg and Di resta to mercedes there is a strong link with mercedes and diresta Michael has run out of gas his past the exparing date.

  23. Peres needs more miles under his belt to get a ferrari seat

    1. Perez correct spelling

  24. Personally I’d quite like to see Barrichello and Massa off the grid. An entirely biased opinion based purely on the fact that they don’t seem to be finding any joy in what they’re doing at the moment. They also seem to moan and complain an awful lot, which is strange because as an English teacher I’ve had loads of Brazilian students who are usually the friendliest and most upbeat people you could ever wish to meet.

  25. The New Pope
    28th July 2011, 19:04

    2013 will probably be a year of much change.

  26. Surely the most likeable team in f1. This is good news :)

  27. Kudos to Sauber for finding talent (back to the old days then) and keeping it, although with the top drives full, any move would’ve been sideways for the drivers. There’s also the possibility of Sauber coming up with a brilliant car out of nowhere. Don’t forget the BMW upgraded the facilities at Hinwil and James Key appears really talented.

    I can see Perez being given another season before Ferrari make a decision about him and Massa. I don’t know about Kobayashi. MacLaren is full, and Red Bull and Mercedes generally prefer their own. I reckon he’ll have to sit tight and hold out for a miracle.

    1. He is kobayashi he’ll find a seat maybe Williams new staff
      New engine manafactors renault it has potenal

  28. Quite a lot of hype for Kobayashi. Although I believe he is a solid driver I dont believe he is a Tier 1 driver yet. I remember seeing statistics comparing him with de la Rosa and even though the points revealed KOB as the better driver the qualifying and all practice results were very close with each driver in pretty much a stalemate. I know its the points that matter but I dismissed them since I didnt want reliability and accidents to skew the results too much. Just my opinion.

  29. Great news for both of them.

  30. Fantastic news. They couldn’t have justified anything else.

  31. Lucas - Mr. Veloce of Britalia - Yours With Wings
    3rd August 2011, 13:02

    This how I see 2012:-

    Red Bull-Renault – S.Vettel, L.Hamilton
    McLaren-Mercedes – ???, ???
    Ferrari – F.Alonso, J.Button
    Mercedes – N.Rosberg, N.Heidfeld
    Lotus Renault – V.Petrov, R.Grosjean
    Williams-Renault – R.Barrichello, P.Maldonado
    Force India-Mercedes – P.di Resta, N.Hulkenberg
    Sauber-Ferrari – K.Kobayashi, S.Perez
    Toro Rosso-Ferrari – J.Alguersuari, D.Ricciardo
    Team Lotus-Renault – H.Kovalainen, K.Chandhok
    Hispania-Cosworth – ???, ???
    Virgin-Cosworth – Timo Glock, ???

  32. Lucas Alexander Munro
    1st October 2011, 9:14

    This is how I see 2012:-

    Red Bull – S.Vettel, M.Webber
    McLaren – J.Button, L.Hamilton
    Ferrari – F.Alonso, F.Massa
    Mercedes – N.Rosberg, M.Schumacher (If Merc give Schuey the superior number again if Rosberg outscores him, I really am accusing Merc of favouritism)
    Force India – P.di Resta, N.Hulkenberg
    Lotus – R.Kubica, B.Senna/R.Grosjean/V.Petrov
    Sauber – K.Kobayashi, S.Perez
    Toro Rosso – J.Alguersuari, D.Ricciardo
    Williams – P.Maldonado, A.Sutil/K.Raikkonen/G.van der Garde/J.Bianchi
    Caterham AirAsia – J.Trulli, H.Kovalainen
    Marussia Virgin – T.Glock, J.D’Ambrosio/R.Wickens/M.Aleshin
    HRT – V.Liuzzi, ???

    1. If Merc give Schuey the superior number again if Rosberg outscores him

      It’s happened the last two years so don’t bet against it. Schumacher asked for it, Rosberg seems not to care and I wouldn’t read anything more into it than that.

  33. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

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