Sauber seal seventh place
Two points for Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi at Interlagos
A committed drive to ninth at the Brazilian Grand Prix by Kamui Kobayashi helped Sauber to seal seventh in the Constructors’ Championship as close rivals Toro Rosso failed to score in Sao Paulo.
Going into the race weekend the Swiss team had a one-point advantage over the Italian squad, but a poor qualifying session left its drivers, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Pérez, starting 16th and 17th respectively. With Jaime Alguersuari 13th and Sébastien Buemi 14th, it looked like Toro Rosso might steal seventh at the 11th hour. In the race, however, the Toro Rosso pairing went backwards.
A bad start by Alguersuari left him struggling towards the back of the field and Buemi failed to make a significant impact throughout and they pair eventually finished 11th and 12th respectively. Kobayashi, meanwhile, was on a march, climbing steadily through the field to eventually take ninth and the two points that sealed seventh for Sauber.
"The team did a very good job to recover from a really bad qualifying,” said the Japanese driver. “I had a good start and also a good race pace. We worked a lot on the race pace and I’m happy that I was able to score in the final two races of the season. It was important for us to finish ahead of Toro Rosso and I’m glad we managed to do that. The strategy was good and the car was as well - many thanks to the guys. After we have struggled a bit in the second half of the season, we have a lot to work on over the winter. I think it is good that we will have the same team with the same drivers again, but we want to become stronger."
Team-mate Sergio Pérez might have also finished in the points but for a spin near the mid-point of the race that cost him time and places. "The team’s main target for today was to make sure we finished the season in seventh, and I am very happy that this was achieved, although I couldn’t contribute this time. As a team I think we are all already looking forward to the next season. After all that has happened I am happy with my rookie season. I have learned a lot and with this experience I want to do a good job in 2012.
“However, my race today wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be,” he said. “The start was fine, but we had opted for wet conditions and the result was that the rear tyres tended to overheat. The car was quite difficult to drive and I’m sorry for the spin at half distance."
For team boss Peter Sauber the result will be a major bonus. "It was an important result today,” he said. “We were able to move up one position in the Constructors’ Championship compared to last year, which is good for the morale of the team. Kamui drove a fantastic race, making up positions in the early laps and then driving fast and consistently to take two championship points.”
Over at Toro Rosso the mood was, understandably, less happy, with team boss Franz Tost lamenting the missed opportunity. “At the start of the season, we set ourselves the target of finishing at least eighth in the Constructors’ Championship and that is where we have finished, 36 points ahead of those in ninth place,” he said. “However, having come so close to challenging for seventh place when we picked up a significant number of points in Korea and India, we cannot be happy with missing out on overtaking the team ahead of us, failing to score in the last two races.
"As for today’s race, Sebastien got a good start, while Jaime dropped a couple of places and then on the Soft tyre, we struggled to match the pace of the Saubers who had got ahead of us at the start and therefore Kobayashi pulled away a bit. Once back on the Medium compound, Jaime was able to close the gap but not enough to get past. As for Buemi, he did not have the pace today, which was partly due to the fact we opted to give him a set-up that would have been more suited to a wet race. Work is already well underway on our next year’s car and as from tomorrow, the entire team’s focus switches to 2012.”