MAY 17, 2012

Sauber next 'surprise' winner?

In a season of surprises, F1 has witnessed wins for McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams. Lotus is knocking on the door, but could the next marque to win be Sauber?

In Spain, Kamui Kobayashi finished fifth, equaling his best ever F1 finish at Monaco last year. But could even that have been better? Kobayashi reckons he could have been on the podium had a hydraulic problem not kept him out of Q3, in which team mate Sergio Perez qualified fifth. Kobayashi reflects, ahead of F1's return to Monte Carlo:

Q: What are your thoughts looking back at Spain?

The most important thing was confirmation that our new aero package was working well. It is definitely a step forward. After I had a difficult qualifying because of the hydraulic problem, I had to start ninth. I think the race performance as such was better than my fifth place suggests. Traffic in the race makes it more difficult to handle the tyres. If you looked at Lewis Hamilton, who was fastest in qualifying, you could also see it wasn't an easy job for him to improve positions in the race traffic after he was forced to start last on the grid.

Q: How is the C31's aero package better?

The car is better balanced through the corners now. In terms of stability I would say it is about the same, depending on the track conditions.

Q: You made two geat overtaking moves in Spain. Have you regained confidence in the car?

I definitely had confidence in the car in Barcelona when overtaking. I also feel with the update we can now handle the tyre management better during the race. We had been a bit weak on that side before.

Q: How do you think the car can perform at Monaco?

It obviously provides an entirely different challenge to Barcelona. In Monaco the car bounces on bumps, you have understeer and oversteer when you are on the limit and the track doesn't forgive any mistakes. I think our car will be better in Monaco than it was last year because it has improved in slow corners. In 2011 I finished fifth, so the target should be to finish higher up this year. Even if you are given the best car in Monaco, in the end a lot is down to the driver to get the last few tenths of a second out of it.

Q: What are your targets for the forthcoming races?

We've seen five different winners in five races. So you could say almost everything is possible this year. I believe we have a good car and good chances for good results. You have to get every small thing perfectly right over the entire weekend. And that's what I'm aiming at.

Q: Why will you be at the Champions League final on Saturday?

I've never seen a match at that level. Now, after I have decided to be a supporter of Chelsea, I'm very much looking forward to seeing them play. This is professional sport at the highest level and I'm getting very excited about going to Munich on Saturday!"