Peter Sauber says he has no concerns that his 2011 driver lineup will be too inexperienced, as he brings in rookie Sergio Perez alongside Kamui Kobayashi, who only made his Formula 1 debut at the end of 2009.
The Sauber duo will have just 21 grands prix between them at the start of next season, but Sauber pointed out that experience had been irrelevant this year, when veteran Pedro de la Rosa disappointed alongside Kobayashi. He also felt the car's unreliability had been a bigger factor than any driver issues in Sauber's slow start.
"With a rookie and with Pedro, who was out of Formula 1 for many years, we scored one point in the first eight races. In the next eight races, we scored 36 points," Sauber told AUTOSPORT. "With a reliable car, reliable engine and gearbox, it would have also been possible to score 36 points in the first part of this period. With a rookie and – I don't like this word – old driver, we could have been in a good position."
He reiterated his delight with Kobayashi, who has impressed greatly with his charging style in F1, despite the low expectations generated by his mostly mediocre GP2 career.
"We are all positively surprised by Kamui," said Sauber. "What is significant is the fact that the rookie scored significantly more points than the experienced driver in our case. I am convinced [Kobayashi] can make another step forward next year."
Sauber's best season came with a very inexperienced driver lineup, when the team ran second-year driver Nick Heidfeld and Formula Renault UK graduate Kimi Raikkonen in 2001, and took a superb fourth in the constructors' championship. The team boss said that season's achievements had convinced him that rookies should not be underestimated, and he feels other outfits have come around to the same opinion.
"Historically, Frank Williams was not a friend of rookies, but this year he signed [Nico] Hulkenberg and he is doing a good job," said Sauber. "Same with [McLaren's] Ron Dennis – some time ago he always had the [established] stars but then he tried it with [Lewis] Hamilton and was very successful as well. We are not the only ones.
"In 2001, with Kimi and Nick – it was Nick's second year of Formula 1 and the first year for Kimi – it was a very successful year for us, with fourth place in the championship."