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Kamui Kobayashi Q&A: Sauber's potential 'simply amazing' 06 Sep 2012

Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 2 September 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 2 September 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 2 September 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Francesco Nenci (ITA) Sauber Race Engineer and Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 2 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.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012

For once you start with no cars in front of you, and then your race gets instantly ruined through no fault of your own. Unsurprisingly, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was not exactly pleased with his Sunday afternoon at Spa. But with truly Japanese calmness of mind, he has already moved on and is looking forward to making an impression again in Monza. It may not be a circuit so well suited to the C31’s characteristics, but such is the breadth of the car’s ability, Kobayashi is convinced anything is possible, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com…

Q: Kamui, what was that in Spa? A fantastic Saturday afternoon, but a disastrous Sunday. Was your heart bleeding?
Kamui Kobayashi:
Oh yes, a fantastic Saturday - an incredible qualifying - and I was very happy at 3pm for the team and me. I think this is really the highlight of the season for us, as we really showed what we can do. The front row - unbelievable. Sunday - terrible. I never had such a terrible Sunday afternoon in my life. But what a weekend anyway. A real rollercoaster ride: Saturday riding high - and on Sunday down and out.

Q: How about the bleeding heart?
KK:
Well, when I woke up on Sunday morning I still could not believe I was starting from the front row. Wow, we had such a good car - and then a few hours later it was all gone. You know what? In years I haven’t seen so many cars crash in the front. At the back, yes, that is the ‘danger-zone’ of the grid - but at the front, not really. There was somebody literally jumping to the front - jumping on other cars. That was very surprising for me - even with many years of racing under my belt I cannot remember being in such starting chaos. And why this time? Couldn’t it have happened in Budapest where it would have been no big deal for me. (laughs) I was so far back on the grid that I wouldn’t have minded someone crashing at the front. So why in Spa when I am on the front row? Life seems to have put me down for a test…

Q: Your car looked pretty peaky at the start with all that smoke on the grid. What was the cause?
KK:
Ah, that was only to warm up the brakes and the tyres. That might have looked pretty scary to the onlooker, but it was no big deal for me. And later in the race there was no problem with the brakes, so it was nothing.

Q: What is your opinion on closed cockpits? Are they really logical after last Sunday?
KK:
Well, of course safety is very important and safety recommendations are always welcomed, but I don’t think that closed cockpits would help. Or let’s put it this way, it would help with flying objects like tyres or other pieces of a car hitting a driver’s head - this is where a closed cockpit could be a big help - but there is another side: how can people get out of the car fast? Formula One cars are built around a monocoque that is pretty much fitted to our body and that you cannot open from the side. So on the one hand a closed cockpit would surely help prevent impacts from flying objects to the head, but what if a car catches fire? We have the fuel tank just behind us. And then to get out of a closed cockpit? Nearly impossible. Probably such a fundamental re-shape of the car’s silhouette would also change Formula One itself.

Q: You were obviously disappointed after Spa, but on the flipside it must be satisfying to know that you have a car that can mix it with the big boys…
KK:
Oh yes, that is true. We had a fantastic car which gives us hope for the rest of the season. We are there. Think back to where we started in 2010 - and then look at where we are now! It’s a massive improvement. We are now fighting with the top teams and that is wonderful. I think we can even put pressure on the top teams. They spend so much money - and we are there as well. They probably have twice our budget, yet we are not far away from their pace. We are really fighting with them and I am really happy with this situation. So much for the good side of the Spa weekend… (laughs)

Q: What is the plan for this weekend? The other way around? A poor qualifying and then a podium finish on Sunday? What’s your guess - how likely is that at a track like Monza?
KK:
Ha, that wouldn’t be a bad deal. And honestly, a podium finish in Spa would have been pretty much within reach. But Monza is different to Spa. Spa has medium- to high-speed corners and this is where we are competitive. Monza is labelled as high speed - and that is true on the straights, but never in the corners, or probably only in the last corner. So what you need in Monza is to be fast on the straights. But with less wing we have less downforce, so we have to find out how to balance our car to best fit this track’s demands.

Q: So what would you consider satisfying?
KK:
Of course I never give up on reaching the podium, but realistically points would be a good result. Maybe there will be some drama again - and this time to my advantage, who knows… (laughs)

Q: This is the last race of the European season, which means it will get more and more difficult in terms of updating the car. What is the plan at Sauber?
KK:
Sure, we will also have some updates at the flyaway races. But for the moment we will use the ‘European’ package that we have been using for the last three races - and we will use it for the next couple of races as it works well. The potential that we have is simply amazing - remember Spa! It is not confirmed right now, but I believe that the next update will be added in the next two to three races - and should it only work even remotely as well as the one in use now does, then I am pretty confident for the rest of the season.

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