- Best Finish: 5th (Kamui Kobayashi, Monaco)
- Points Scored: 35
- Championship Position: 6th
If you’d asked Sauber where they’d like to be at mid-season it’s fair to assume they’d have said sixth in the championship, with Kamui Kobayashi carrying on his 2010 form and Sergio Perez displaying his potential. Job done, even with a dodgy shaped wing in Australia.
The Swiss outfit have emerged as kings of the midfield – behind the might of the big bucks teams but ahead of the likes of Force India and Williams – with both drivers impressing on-track. Add to this the stability they’re set to enjoy from an unchanged driver line-up in 2012 and you’ve got a very happy F1 team.
Sauber have a great group of people on their books, headed by the wily old Peter Sauber and with the likes of CEO Monica ? and tech chief James Key injecting a bit of young blood in to the mix. If you want an example of a well-run F1 team who make the best of relatively limited resources look no further than the Hinwil-based team. The one thing that’s missing is a proper livery: we’ve had enough of the economy brand photocopier paper look they’ve rocked for the past two seasons.
If Sauber can hold on to sixth over the next eight races – not an easy task considering Force India’s recent form – 2011 will be considered a big success. The only worry will be where to go from there: with both drivers likely to attract offers from bigger teams next year they may have go go back to the drawing board for 2013.
Status: Chasing Dog
For Kamui Kobayashi this season has been a continuation of 2010. Brilliantly entertaining on race day, he has made a mockery of some lower grid slots to record points on a regular basis. In face, six straight finishes in the top 10 from Malaysia to Canada shows that he’s not a one overtake-trick pony. The mesmerising drive from 24th to 10th in Turkey was a particular highlight, as well as running 2nd in Canada before the red-flag period. Let’s not forget to clutch of ballsy overtakes too, which is fast becoming his trademark.
Minor criticisms? He’s not the most consistent qualifier in the world, with Sergio Perez having the best of the inter-team battle, but there is time to work on that. Overall Kamui is maturing nicely.
Perez meanwhile has delivered some top-notch race performances, making a particular name for himself as a driver who can look after a set of tyres. He has out-qualified team-mate Kobayashi 5-4 and, unlike the Japanese racer, hasn’t been a Q1 dropout and is yet to make any major mistakes, apart perhaps from irritating Jarno Trulli so much in Hungary that the Italian described him as having “a rare kind of rudeness and a unique ignorance of the rules.”
Had he not suffered his very nasty and mildly brain-bending Monaco qualy shunt Sergio would have impressed even more. A winner in last year’s GP2 event in the principality, he’d hit Q3 for the first time before losing it exiting the tunnel. That hurt his in-season momentum as much as his head, ruling him out of the next two races, but by sitting the Canadian monsoon out and letting Pedro de la Rosa take his seat he had the necessary time to – quite literally – gather his thoughts. On that note with the grizzly Spaniard, nice to see that Pirelli testers get precedence over young talent in terms of substitutions. Not.
Badger’s Best: Kobayashi