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Kamui Kobayashi Q&A: I love this circuit 01 Sep 2012

(L to R): Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber, pole sitter Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams celebrate in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012

Aside from Jenson Button’s pole position, the other big surprise on Saturday at Spa was Kamui Kobayashi’s P2. And with Sauber team mate Sergio Perez up in fourth - following Pastor Maldonado’s grid penalty - the C31 is certainly performing well on the Belgium track…

Q: Kamui, it is said that Spa separates the men from the boys. You’ve clinched a place on the front row of the grid, does that mean you’re a man not a boy?
Kamui Kobayashi:
Ha, I don’t know anything about any separation - I just know that I love this circuit. And to be honest I am a bit surprised to be on the first row. We have had good performance here - that is not a surprise - but it was beyond my imagination that it could take me all the way to the front row.

Q: Let’s look at it from a different angle. It’s also said to be a drivers’ track and one of the last ‘real’ tracks on the calendar. Is that why you did so well today?
KK:
Yes, I feel comfortable here and I have the confidence to do well here and that I would be fast. I love the layout of the track, I love all that green and that the tarmac is very smooth. And I love the speed. That is really special. I also like the sensation of Singapore but speed-wise it is not the same.

Q: Does that mean this track is more for flat-out drivers and less for those more tactical orientated?
KK:
Probably yes. This really is a track where ‘full throttle’ is not just a phrase. Here you can do it. Like at my all-time favourite track, Suzuka. I would say that all the drivers who love Spa also love Suzuka and visa versa.

Q: When you were doing your fast lap did you know that it would be such a fantastic time?
KK:
I had no feeling at all for how good the time really was. I had to wait for the team radio to tell me! (laughs) Everything is always so close together that a driver loses the ability to tell what his time is worth. I just knew that the car felt fantastic and that I had done a good lap. But sometimes you think you’ve done a good lap just to find out that you are nowhere. So as I said before, I was probably the most surprised at the result.

Q: Why is it that this track has produced such an unusual grid?
KK:
Maybe the short practice sessions on Friday but then that goes for all of us. To be honest I have no explanation other than saying that our car was very good here, which Sergio has also shown with his P5. I cannot say that I did a fantastic lap. In reality I could have improved by a couple of tenths as I made a small mistake in Turn Seven.

Q: With Button on pole and you in P2, how do you envisage the race turning out?
KK:
For me it definitely will be different as I usually start from P10! (laughs) I have nobody in front of me - wow. I for sure will not take any risks at the start! My prediction is that tomorrow everything will be about tyre management and we have proved that we manage that pretty well.

Q: So you are after a good points result?
KK:
Well, realistically I am looking for a podium. That would make me very happy.

Q: So you think that you will have the race pace to fend off the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton?
KK:
I think so, at least I will try to keep them behind me. I have set my sights on the podium so I will have to!

Q: Are you thinking about a win?
KK:
No, not really. But then again if we do a good job it is possible. There is no pressure on me that I ‘need’ to win. I want to do the best job I can and then let’s see where we are. The start will definitely be challenging - but it will be a fantastic challenge!

Q: Looking at the grid it is a bit like David standing up against Goliath, with many drivers from smaller teams in front of the usual suspects. Will you be David tomorrow and succeed?
KK:
I will try! (laughs)

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