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Exclusive Q&A with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi 08 Sep 2011

Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 27 August 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 28 August 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 28 August 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 27 August 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 28 August 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 27 August 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 27 August 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 30 July 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Budapest, Hungary, Friday, 29 July 2011

At the moment the closest constructors’ battle is between Sauber and Force India and while Sauber may currently hold sixth in the standings, Force India are just three points adrift. With his team seemingly stuck in a midseason slump, driver Kamui Kobayashi could be forgiven for feeling uneasy. Kobayashi, however, is confident Sauber will be back on form soon…

Q: Kamui, compared to your team mate Sergio Perez, you have struggled in qualifying. Are you feeling under pressure?
Kamui Kobayashi:
Well, I think qualifying is an important thing - but qualifying is not everything. Sometimes you accept starting from P18 because you know it will give you an advantage in the race. So you always have to judge it very carefully. I would say that last season qualifying was much more important, but this year this same importance is not entirely there anymore. Sometimes we focus more on race set-up. Of course people do focus on qualifying - and I have to admit that I had to improve in this area - but honestly my main focus is on the race. And the points I’ve scored prove that I’m right.

Q: Last season you dominated your two veteran team mates - Pedro de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld. Perez seems a much tougher proposition. Is it inspiring or annoying?
KK:
This year is a completely different story to last season because of the tyres. Last year it was much more difficult to ‘outpace’ experienced guys because they could fall back on their Bridgestone experience. This year we all started on the same level of knowledge with the tyres, so it is easier for a rookie to match lap times. The Pirellis are a kind of ‘equaliser’ this season.

Q: Sauber started the season well but have struggled recently. Why?
KK:
Pace-wise it’s been a bit difficult with a midseason rule change that was then changed back. We were very strong at the start of the season but then suffered because of the change. And unfortunately even though this change was revoked we haven’t been able to reclaim our initial strength. This back and forth was quite irritating and has made us struggle a lot. I think we are now on the way to stabilizing our performance and regaining the pace we had at the start of the season. I know that we have a huge amount of potential and when we fully understand the issue we will be able to fix it.

Q: How does an ambitious driver cope with only scoring two points from the last five races?
KK:
Yep, that is a big problem for us - not just for me. We scored a lot of points at the beginning of the season but lately we’ve been struggling a lot because of that rule change. I still believe that we will have the chance to fight again in what I call ‘the second group’ of teams in the championship and get good results. We might not be the fastest of these teams - but we are a very consistent team - and that is a very important quality.

Q: Force India are nipping at Sauber’s heels in the standings. Can we expect some updates?
KK:
This weekend we have only a couple of updates but more is to come in the future and I hope these updates will help us regain our initial pace. I think we will be fine if we avoid making mistakes and optimize our potential in the race.

Q: How crucial is this weekend? You are leading Force India by just three points...
KK:
To be honest this is not one of our favourite tracks. Force India were fast at Spa and my guess is that we will see more of the same here. Of course that doesn’t mean we are giving up, but there are definitely tracks that suit us better, like Suzuka for example. I also don’t think the Singapore track will be a Force India track. My guess is that we could do better there. But I think that Monza will be good for them - like Spa was. I think we need to find better pace this weekend and then I think we will have it in our hands to fight with them for P6.

Q: Gearbox problems meant you didn’t start this race last year. So you’ll want to do better here this season…
KK:
Definitely better. I want to finish the race - as Monza is a very exciting track. Sure it would be fantastic to score points but just finishing would be a 100 percent better than my 2010 race.

Q: What about next season? What does the future hold for you?
KK:
Well, of course thoughts about your own future are important, but it is more important for me that I can show what I can do. At the moment I do not have big plans about the future but big plans about the present. I want to show my true colours, as I think doing that is the best ticket for the future.

Q: Where would you like to finish the season?
KK:
2010 was my rookie season. Now I am in my second year, I want to show that I am more experienced and can further eliminate the error rate. I think that at the end of the day you have to work well with the team - and with my team mate. I want us all to stand together very closely, as results are very often the end product of good cooperation and good communication. We’ve probably made some mistakes this season - but if we can go home with a smile - that would be great. If we just avoid crying! (laughs)

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