Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Barcelona, 2011

Sauber planning update for second race – Key

2011 F1 season

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Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Barcelona, 2011
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Barcelona, 2011

Sauber technical director James Key said the team are bringing an update for their car to the second race of the year in Malaysia, two weeks after the season-opener in Australia.

In a Q&A issued by Sauber he said: “The good news is the fairly big update we took to the second Barcelona test for the start of the season seems to have worked the way we hoped it would.

“We have some big updates planned and will bring several new parts to the second race.”

Here’s Key’s interview in full:

How well is the team prepared for the 2011 season?

James Key: “I think we are reasonably well prepared because we were able to cover quite a lot of work over the four tests. There has been a lot to learn with the new tyres and also with things like the KERS, the rear wing and the aero on the car, which we finished in Barcelona last week.

“The team and the drivers have done a good job in learning and understanding the way the tyres and the car are behaving with the drivers contributing a lot to the team?s understanding and directions that we need to go in.”

What is your impression in terms of reliability?

JK:“Reliability in general has been OK. We have only had one repetitive problem and other minor issues, which occasionally pop up in testing anyway, as well as certain things that can be easily dealt with.

“Fundamentally the car has been reliable and there hasn?t been any great need for major re-designs or re-thinks in certain areas.”

And what do you think about the performance of the Sauber C30?

JK:“Performance is very difficult to judge because performance ultimately is relative to the competition. I think we have been quite honest with the way we have been testing, and ran lower fuel levels only on the last two days in Barcelona, which gave us a little bit more of an idea of where the car is.

“It looks quite tight but it is really difficult to judge. I think we are satisfied we have made the sort of progress we wanted to make over last year?s car in some specific areas.

“The good news is the fairly big update we took to the second Barcelona test for the start of the season seems to have worked the way we hoped it would. The important thing now is we continue to push and bring further updates as soon as we can. We have some big updates planned and will bring several new parts to the second race.”

James Key, Sauber, Barcelona, 2011
James Key, Sauber, Barcelona, 2011

How would you describe the characteristics of the new Pirelli tyres, and how will this influence future race strategies?

JK: “The characteristics are quite different to what we have been used to from the previous supplier, but I think this was by design.

“The tyres certainly need managing on longer runs, and I think in race conditions this is going to be crucial. There are various ways of dealing with them and we need to see how the strategy tends to emerge in the first few races to optimise that.

“The rear tyres are a little bit stronger than we first thought they would be. This is quite a positive thing because initially from the data they looked quite weak. In many ways the characteristics we expected from the tyres are there, so the balance of the car is close to what we expected.

“The tyres are quite peaky. The grip on the first lap is generally quite good, but then it needs managing. A good thing about them is there is a very clear difference between the two compounds, and that is something we have not seen in recent years.”

Will the importance of the pit crew?s work increase?

JK: “We will see more complicated and detailed strategies now. There will be more pit stops and the pit crew will be under more pressure, not just to ensure every pit stop is as quick as it can be, but also to react very quickly should the need or opportunity to change tyres comes up in a race as a much more critical part than it was before.

“Also for the engineers on the pit wall strategic decisions are far less predictable than before. I?m sure we will learn a lot more about how to handle it in the first few races.”

What is your impression of the team?s rookie driver Sergio Perez?

JK: “Sergio has developed very well over the past four tests. Looking at where he started at the Valencia test in early February and where we are now after only six weeks, he has made enormous progress.

“He has learned an awful lot, his feedback has improved on a test by test basis, and his confidence in the car has also improved a great deal. He made a good effort when we did our race and qualifying runs with him at the last Barcelona test.

“He drove the car for the first time on low fuel and new tyres, and he really made good use of it by going quicker and quicker. However, it will be a very different kind of pressure at the start of the season, but so far it has worked well and now he is looking forward to the race.”

How is Kamui Kobayashi dealing with his new role in the team?

JK: “He is dealing with it very well and very professionally. He is playing a very proactive role in helping in the direction the car is developing and giving a very good driver?s perspective of where we are.

“He?s got a bit of work to do in adapting to the tyres, because he is used to the tyres of the previous supplier, while Sergio isn?t, so it is a little bit more difficult to adapt for a driver who was in F1 last year. But Kamui is doing a good job on that and, as we know from last year, we can rely on him in both testing and racing and it is a pleasure to work with him.”

2011 F1 season


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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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11 comments on “Sauber planning update for second race – Key”

  1. Interesting sound bites. Looks like Sauber has found the Key towards their return back to the front of the midfield pack.

    A shame the livery and team kit is so uninspiring, but the drivers look like they might bring some exiting racing this year.

    1. dyslexicbunny
      15th March 2011, 13:49

      I see what you did there.

      I’m pretty excited for Sauber this season. Let’s hope Kobayashi has a better start than last season.

      1. Me too. Also bummed about their bland livery and team kit. Could’ve been bright Telmex blue… with sparkly rainbows and unicorns on the sidepods.

        1. Andrew Martel
          16th March 2011, 0:39

          “Always ways I want to be with you, and make believe with you”. Rainbows and unicorns would be an excellent touch. On a serious note though, I agree, the livery is a tad too much like a billboard on wheels.

  2. I am expecting a better result from both Kobayashi & Sauber this season than they had in 2010.

  3. if kobayashi can sory out his qualifying, he will give some of the big boys a real scare this year

  4. I really hope Kamui can pick up where he left off. Looking forward to having two young drivers head up Sauber.

  5. It was a great move bringing Key in from FI. He seems to have that knack of pointing everyone in the right direction and improving things.

    He’s definitely one to watch for the next 5 years.

    On the driver front, they have a good lineup, and having a Ferrari engine and kers system has to be a pretty decent package doesnt it.

    I’d love to see Sauber have a good year. It will be interesting as I believe both Sauber and STR have made a step up (yet to be proven but a gut feeling) in terms of performance.

    So potentially ther are going to be right in the mix for points.

    Will be interesting to watch. Bring on AUS GP.

    1. It was a great move bringing Key in from FI. He seems to have that knack of pointing everyone in the right direction and improving things.

      He’s definitely one to watch for the next 5 years

      That’s a good point. He seems to have done wonders for the team so I wonder if in a few years he gets snatched up by a bigger team.

      1. I wonder if in a few years he gets snatched up by a bigger team.

        Here’s hoping that Sauber will be big enough in a few years to keep him from leaving. I also hope Sauber don’t slip back into the “Ferrari B-team” role they seemed to have in the early 2000’s.

      2. Indeed, and a good job for FI too.

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