Kamui Kobayashi Q&A: Sauber extracting the maximum 09 Jun 2011
P10 in the drivers championship might not look much at first glance, but when you consider Felipe Massa is just five points ahead and Michael Schumacher is five behind, then no wonder Kamui Kobayashi is satisfied with his 2011 season to date with the supposedly midfield Sauber squad. The Swiss team have learnt their lessons from a poor 2010 campaign and are now regular Q3 and points contenders. Kobayashi just hopes they can maintain their momentum
Q: Kamui, Monaco must have been bittersweet for Sauber - you finishing in P5, but with your team mate in hospital. How was it for you?
Kamui Kobayashi: It was, of course, a very unfortunate happening, but the fact that the team pulled together to run on a strong strategy and get a good result showed how close together the team is. That result was very important. Of course such a crash never leaves you untouched, so my aim was to have a good result to support the spirit in the team. I could only contribute by finishing with a good result to help the team. Unfortunately I am no doctor, so what I could do directly for Sergio was very limited. Only a good result could make us leave Monaco with a good feeling - and I delivered that result.
Q: How did you feel after Checos crash? Was there something in your head whispering, watch out?
KK: No, no. We all know that we take some risks when racing. Indeed it was a very unfortunate part of the track where Checo crashed and went into the barrier. To be successful means that you accept risks - may it be in racing, or may it be in strategy. So far this has served us well.
Q: From a 2010 season with very little success, Sauber have catapulted themselves to P6 in the constructors standings. What is it that has made such a difference?
KK: I think firstly that this season we now have one years experience on our own under our belt - after BMW pulled out at the end of 2009. The team was built up afresh after their departure, and this always comes with a period of learning. Secondly we understand better now how to extract everything from who we are. Sauber is not a top team - it is a midfield contender - and our paramount objective is to be in the points every weekend. At the moment I think we are doing quite well, but believe me, there is a lot of work behind that success.
Q: The C30 seems to treat its Pirelli tyres very well, minimising the pit stops needed. Do you have any explanation for that?
KK: Well, obviously the tyres were new to everybody, but we spent a lot of time discussing how our car should be. We still dont know the tyres fully - it is a new situation every race weekend - so we tried to build a car with a very open window, so that if the tyres are not what we expect we still can fight and have a good performance. If we had built the car with an extremely narrow window we would have missed that choice - and that is what we didnt want. Maybe our car design is not as extreme as others, but we have a wide window car, and so far this is working very well.
Q: Do you think Sauber would be in such a strong championship position had you made as many pit stops in 2011 as your competitors?
KK: Probably not. We are in P6 and if it carries on working like now well have more chances to go ahead. Our biggest aim is to score points consistently and at the moment we are able to match these expectations. But there are so many more races to go, so lets hope that we keep up our good performance.
Q: When you look back at that Monaco race, what were the keys to obtaining that excellent result?
KK: To be honest, my best moment was when we got the safety car. It gave us the chance to change the tyres. Sure, it was important for me to overtake, as I was losing time behind Adrian (Sutil) and I wanted to close the gap to Petrov. It was probably a bit of a risk overtaking, but thats racing. Probably it was a risky decision, but after I overtook him I was quicker by one second - and knowing that you can go faster is the point where you definitely decide to overtake. But as this was in Monaco where overtaking is never easy, you accept the risk at that very moment.
Q: Looking at the drivers standings, Felipe Massa is only five points ahead of you and Michael Schumacher is behind you. Is this the beginning of a new pecking order?
KK: Well, of course, it is a great moment, but I think these two have had a bit of bad luck so far, so you also have to see the standing in that respect. But yes, we have done great so far and collected good points. And even we had bad luck with some of our points, so you never know
Q: The Montreal track has a reputation for eating tyres. Can Sauber keep up the trend of doing the least pit stops?
KK: Yes, I hope so. Here it is very important to get speed. Even if you reduce the pit stops here, if the performance is not good you easily lose good points. We have to find the best compromise.
Q: Your 2010 Montreal debut was anything but happy. What are you promising yourself this weekend?
KK: It was indeed not brilliant last year, so I hope there will be no mistakes on Sunday and that I go the whole distance and score valuable points.
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