Kamui Kobayashi made it – the 26-year-old Japanese achieved the first podium finish of his Formula One career at his home race in Suzuka. Overall it is the 27th podium for Sauber and the fourth this season. Kamui had a very good start from third on the grid and drove a strong and solid race, which was breathtaking for the team at the end when Jenson Button in his McLaren came closer and closer. Sergio Pérez, who started fifth, lost ground right at the beginning. Later he performed a very good overtaking manouevre on Lewis Hamilton in the other McLaren, but it all went wrong when Sergio tried to do this again on lap 19. The Mexican ended up in the gravel due to his own mistake.
Weather: sunny and dry, temperatures, 23°C air, 32°C track
Kamui : 3rd
Sauber C31-Ferrari (Chassis 04/Ferrari 056)
Start on use soft tyres, after 14 laps and 31 laps change to new hard tyres.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, it is hard to believe – I achieved my first podium in Suzuka! It was a fantastic race and we have been working really hard to get to this point since we were lacking pace on Friday. But the Sauber F1 Team did a great job to recover from there. Starting from third obviously helped a lot and also the long run I did on Friday made me very confident for the race. The team has built a great car this year. You can tell this from the podium finishes my team-mate has had. At times I was close to that as well but I never had the luck. It means so much to me that it finally worked out. Maybe from now on things will be easier. I had a very long last stint today and Jenson (Button) changed for fresh tyres later. My rear tyres where really bad in the end and I had a lot of oversteer. But regardless of this I had to push to defend my podium place. Only during the final lap did I allow myself to really think I can keep him behind me, because then the best overtaking opportunity at the end of the straight was over, and then I saw all the fans and the raised hands. It meant a lot to me and I want to thank the Japanese fans.”
Sergio Pérez: DNF
Sauber C31-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari 056)
Start on used soft tyres, after 15 laps change to new hard tyres.
“I feel very sorry for the team. It worked well when I got passed Lewis Hamilton for the first time on lap six, but then it didn’t when I tried it again. Lewis went quite late to the inside and I had only room on the outside. But it certainly was my mistake. The race didn’t start too well for me either when Romain Grosjean caused a mess and I lost positions.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO:
“I can’t express how happy I am! A podium finish for Kamui in his home country is simply incredible. He did an outstanding race today, particularly in the final part when he was under huge pressure from Jenson Button. He didn’t make the smallest mistake and defended his third position in great style. Sergio was also in a position to score a great result, but unfortunately his attack on Lewis Hamilton didn’t work out. Great compliments to the team which made progress during the whole weekend and finally delivered a great and very emotional result.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
“What an exciting race, particularly the final laps! However, I think we were in control of things. We did the second pit stop earlier than initially planned, because Kamui’s tyres had gone off. We had to make this compromise not to lose too much time in the middle stint and, at the same time, not to have a very long final stint. This was not easy for Kamui to handle, but he did a great job keeping Jenson Button at a distance while at the same time managing the tyres. Just the last two laps were more thrilling than we had hoped for, but in the end it all worked out fine. Kamui’s race was absolutely brilliant. At the first pit stop we lost a position to Felipe Massa, but otherwise we would have lost one to Jenson. Sergio was on the same pace as Kamui, but in the end he could not benefit from that.”