Features - Interview
MARCH 1, 2011
Kamui Kobayashi was responsible for some of 2010's more memorable moments in his first full year with Sauber. Now he heads into the new season as the man Sauber will be looking to for direction given that new Mexican team mate Sergio Perez is in his rookie year. He took time out to give his thoughts on the season ahead prior to the final Barcelona test.
Q: Have you tried all types and compounds of the new Pirelli tyres?
Yes, everything that has been available so far, including the wet tyres, although I ran them when the conditions were not ideal because the track wasn't quite wet enough.
Q: What are the most significant differences from the previous tyre?
Pirelli has done a good job within a short period of time. The outcome is tyres that are different in almost every aspect compared to what we have been used to. The grip level is lower, the tyres don't last as long, and once you overdrive them the drop is dramatic and can be five seconds per lap. But these characteristics didn't occur by accident and they will produce a lot of pit stops and exciting races.
Q: For the Bahrain test that was originally scheduled we expected much higher track temperatures. What difference does this make?
Higher track temperatures definitely make a huge difference. So, yes, we will have that lack of experience in Melbourne. But this is the same for everybody and we have to react and deal with what happens.
Q: There's been much talk about excessive demand on drivers due to KERS and the adjustable rear wing. What's your opinion?
The most important question is how you can improve lap times with the new systems and by how much. People who are using it well will have an advantage compared to those who are using it less efficiently. It is a matter of concentration and I can definitely manage that. Regarding the talk - we are race drivers and complaining sometimes can be part of the business.
Q: Do you believe we will really see a lot more overtaking?
I guess so, although I don't believe KERS will help because almost everybody has it. So it is only the rear wing and I'm not sure if the idea for the races of the one second gap to the car in front will really work.
Q: You have a talent for overtaking. Will that be worth less now?
Maybe, especially if it turns out overtaking really becomes much easier.
Q: You have got to know Sergio quite well. When you work together how do you feel in your new role as the more experienced driver?
I'm fine with it. Compared to a rookie, one season of experience is a lot. I know quite well how it is for Sergio. It's not easy and he needs time. The first race weekends will be tough. Practice is limited and very quickly you have to qualify and race. Every rookie has to deal with that.
Q: Will the team take new parts to the last Barcelona test?
Yes, we have several new parts. It will be our start of the season package and relates to almost all the aero components on the car. I'm very much looking forward to testing them. The final winter test is always something very special with every team's car close to what they will be at the first race and everyone trying to find out where everyone else stands. What we all estimate may still be wrong, but it's exciting!