Sauber achieved its best result of the season so far in Japan, where Kamui Kobayashi entertained again with a spectacular charge to seventh, and Nick Heidfeld took eighth in only his second race back. The team's technical director James Key shared his thoughts on the race.
Q. That's the second time this year we have seen Kamui on a charge late in the race on new, option tires. Is it his overtaking ability that makes you confident of being able to make this strategy work?
James Key: Yes, to a certain extent. To be honest, if the positions on the grid had been reversed we would probably have done the same thing with Nick Heidfeld.
We felt that the car seemed to be perfectly fine on the prime tire, and we felt that provided he could hold position with the guys ahead of him, or even overtake people early on then it would work.
A banzai run on the softs at the end was worth a go. If we had the same strategy as the guys around us then we would have just sat where we were, unless he made an outstanding start. We had to do something different with Kamui and he did exactly what he needed to do.
Q. Was he at all held back by the damage on the car?
JK: No. We looked very carefully at the numbers. There was a slight aerodynamic balance shift but it didn't appear to be detrimental to the lap times. We had to watch the temperatures a bit, but fundamentally the performance was pretty good.
Q. And what did you make of Kamui's drive? Qualifying wasn't so good, but he made up for it in the race...
JK: The amount of overtaking he did at Suzuka, of all places, was great. Qualifying was a shame because he was on a pretty good lap and made a mistake in the chicane. That could have been a Q3 lap. I know a lot of people will say that, but he was up on Nick at the time and Nick was very close to getting through. The race was more controlled and had better performance. The car is better in the race and Kamui is a racer.
Q. Nick scored points in only his second race back – was that probably as early as could be expected?
JK: Nick has found quite a bit this weekend. It has been a difficult weekend with qualifying postponed, he got his lap on the options to work and he's learned a lot about that tire. He has learned a lot this weekend and did exactly the job that we needed him to do. He drove a controlled race. He was held up at the beginning which also hurt the tires so we brought him in earlier than planned. He drove a really good race.
Q. Were the setup changes that you made after Friday practice to try and make the upgrades to the front of the car work better effective?
JK: The changes we did were effective. The front wing itself is the same as we ran on Friday, and the changes really were mechanical to reflect what the drivers were saying and it seemed to work well in the race. There is an element of driver in that as well because they had time to think but certainly the car was easier to drive on Sunday.