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Kobayashi riding high ahead of Monaco
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 May 2012   |  9:46 am GMT  |  91 comments

Kamui Kobayashi has said that the new aero package Sauber put on the car in Barcelona has made it easier to drive and to get results from and he believes he can better his fifth place result from Monaco last season.

The Japanese driver had another strong drive in Barcleona on Sunday with two stunning overtakes as he fought his way up from ninth on the grid to 5th at the flag. He now has 19 points from five races.

“Our new aero package was working well. It is definitely a step forward,” he said. “I think we have improved in the areas we wanted to. The car is better balanced through the corners now. In terms of stability I would say it is about the same, but stability always depends a lot on the track conditions.”

Last year Sauber had a bittersweet Monaco weekend, as Sergio Perez was hospitalised with concussion after a nasty accident in the chicane, while Kobayashi had a strong result. Monaco organisers say that they have ground down the bump which was unsettling cars on the run from the tunnel to the chicane, a place where a number of drivers have crashed badly in recent years including Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button. They have also removed a tree and moved back the barriers at the rear of the chicane so the impact point is further away from the chicane and less severe.

Kobayashi reckons that the Sauber will go well in Monaco. So do engineers from other teams. The exhaust layout they have adopted gives significant gain in the lower speed corners such as can be found at Monaco.

“In Monaco the car is bouncing on bumps, you have understeer and oversteer when you are driving 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. However, even if you are given the best car in Monaco, in the end a lot is down to the driver to get the ultimate tenths of a second out of it.”

For all the latest F1 news and driver and team postings on social media, including what Mark Webber does to relax (!) go to http://connect.jamesallenonf1.com/f1-website-news/

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  1. SK Anand says:

    For 2013, Kobayashi will def be in the scheme of things with one of the top team. And he will have some decent competition from Maldonado and Perez. And at the moment there only appear to be 4 spots – Massa in case his woes continue at ferrari, Webber untill he signs up for 2013, Lewis, coz he may still sign an extension and finally Michael at Mercedes. Unfortunately, all are big boots in their own way, and have a fair gravy train of advertisers to back them. So that will be a hard commercial decision

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      Kobayashi will never be in a top team. He’s good when the car is good but thats about it. I think he’s more popular with fans than team bosses. He’s a great overtaker and got a few good result but he has limitation. And apart from Massa and maybe Schumacher, I dont see a lot of top team seats available.

      1. Quercus says:

        You cannot make sweeping statements like that — just remember all those years Jenson Button languished in the midfield without ever winning a race or even hinting at how good he could be.

      2. Richard B. says:

        jenson showed he was a future champion many times, you just have to pay close attention

    2. Quercus says:

      What an exciting driver Kobayashi is. I’d love to see what he’d do in a top car.

      1. SK Anand says:

        @ James,

        Love to know your views on this

        SK Anand

      2. James Allen says:

        I’d like to see it too.

        He’s been a bit erratic in the last couple of years. This year he needs to show consistency at a high level, especially in qualifying.

      3. Gudien says:

        Sure Kobayashi has been ‘erratic’. Who hasn’t? Did you happen to take a look at Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, and Michael Schumacher in the last 4 races?

      4. KinoNoNo says:

        I like to point out 2 things:

        1. His car has broke twice so far this year in quali. He had a busted damper in Malaysia and a hydraulic leak in Spain.

        2.In races Sauber has been known to roll the dice on pit-strategy staying out longer than rivals. Sometimes it works and they score solid points.But when they get it wrong they’re defenseless from attack from cars with fresher tires. Perez got swamped on the last lap of Auz with both Kamui and Kimi getting past and desperately fighting off the STR’s and DiResta.You wouldn’t call Kimi erratic in China when Lotus left him out on tyres that had gone over the cliff and he fell through the field finishing 14th.

      5. Erik says:

        Wholeheartedly agree that kobayashi deserves a top drive. Compared to some of the others in top teams (Rosenberg, massa, grojean, Schumacher), I don’t think you can call him erratic. Also remember that he has had a couple of unreliable cars and a few odd calls on strategy by his team. He is what you’d call a quick guy who needs some nurturing. The top teams ought to take notice.

  2. SK Anand says:

    Dear James,

    Though un-related to your current post, a look at the race calendar and question emerged. The canadian race is slotted for June 10, with Monaco taking place on May 27 and Europe on June 24.

    Just wondering would it not have been better for the schedule to have Europe follow Monaco, and Canada slotted with the US Grand Prix.

    Or is there a specific reason for Montreal to have a race at that point in time?

    Sincerely,

    SK Anand

    1. James Allen says:

      It has been in that slot for many years. Austin won’t be ready until November.

      1. DC Corey says:

        James:

        Per your point on scheduling for the Canadian G.P., what are the chances it and the new G.P. in New Jersey are back-to-back in 2013? I live in Washington, D.C., and travel to Montreal and love it, and would love to do back-to-back race weekends.

        Alternatively, what are the odds the New Jersey race means the end of Montreal when its contract is up in 2014? That would be a real shame. Such a great event.

      2. James Allen says:

        The plan is for them to be back to back – question will be whether there’s a market for both, as Montreal is only an hour in a plane from NYC

      3. Nil says:

        A large percentage of those going to Canada from America for the GP are EU and Indian expatriates. It’s easier to go to NYC than deal with visa and immigration issues (especially on the American side).

    2. michael grievson says:

      I agree, I’m sure there are more economical ways of scheduling the GPs

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I have always been stunned at how haphazard the MotoGP calender is. They shift continent to continent every other race it seems!
        Surely freight costs are the same for motor bikes as cars?

    3. It can snow in Montreal in November, and Austin is crazy hot in June. Two totally different climates.

    4. Further to James’s point, Austin will be quite hot in June (30-35 C) coupled with high humidity (75%+). It’s in the KL/Singapore territory.
      It’s much better for teams, drivers and spectators for the race to happen in cooler conditions.

  3. Rob Newman says:

    You can have the best car, the best engine, the best aero package etc. But unfortunately these days everything boil downs to the tyres. For Monaco, my bet is on McLaren and Ferrari.

    1. Interesting that you complain about it all coming down to the tires, and then go on to bet on the two most historically successful teams with some of the best drivers and strongest engines with the biggest budgets for aero.

      I would say a top three of Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton in the points shows that things are still stacked towards the big three teams of 2011 overall, just with a little more variability in each race.

      1. Rob Newman says:

        If you think I am ‘complaining’ about tyres, then you should listen to Schumacher. McLarens and Ferrari are better in handling the 2012 tyres and they are fast. Hamilton has been the fastest during qualifying this year.

        Red Bull haven’t got a grip with the tyres yet. It is true Massa hasn’t mastered the tyres at all but that is an exception.

        But again as we know, grid position is very important at Monaco than anywhere else.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        True but then who has mastered the tyres? And hasn’t vettel won more races than Hamilton this year? And red bull equaled the number of wins of mclaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams? So – hey – if you want to say who’s got the tyres sorted it’s proving pretty difficult to call from where I’m sitting. ;)

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        I’ simply staggered you’re mentioning Ferrari in the same sentence as Mclaren.
        Maybe the Alonso/ Ferrari combination is correct but Massa falls way short of that potential.

        Just that thought alone, tells the real story of Alonso’s ability.

    2. Erik says:

      I have no problem with it coming down to the tyres. At least that’s something they all have equal access to. Why would anyone bemoan any aspect of the sport that gives them all a level playing field. Hamilton has exactly the same opportunity as a Kobayashi to use the tyres at his disposal.

  4. AlexD says:

    In any case, I think we will see a new winner again – Hamilton, Kimi or maybe a Sauber driver…who knows.
    A lottery indeed, but I prefer it this way vs watching the finder for most of the year.

    1. CraigT says:

      I think it’s only a matter of time before a Lotus wins a GP. Raikkonen and Grosjean have been up there in the last couple of GPs and have been probably the most consistent driver pairings this year.
      Can’t wait to see who lifts the trophy at Monaco, it’s anyones guess.

      1. Mitchel says:

        +1.

        Wouldn’t mind seeing Hamilton or Webber winning either though!

      2. AuraF1 says:

        +1 agreed. I think the lotus in the guise of Renault has done pretty well at Monaco and I suspect Monaco is one of those tracks that rewards a high pressure driver like kimi.

        Personally I want Lewis to win one, webber, Schumacher and then kobi – just to keep the season hilarious but I think kimi might have his best shot so far here.

      3. stoikee says:

        I would also love to see Kimi win. What is the forcasted temperatures for Monaco? I hope it’s high coz I think that’s what the Lotus likes.

  5. michael grievson says:

    My bet is going on Kimi. I wonder if I can put a bet on Button saying “I’ve just got no rear grip”

    1. CarlH says:

      I suspect no bookie will take that bet. They’d lose too much money.

    2. Callum Allison says:

      That or “‘ve got MASSIVE understeer”

    3. Kay says:

      As long as the car is 0.01% imbalanced, Jenson won’t be a happy bunny.

    4. AuraF1 says:

      I think button is just hoping that the engineers remember to remove the baffles this time. The pit crews haven’t exactly been covering themselves with glory this year and all the Lewis fanboy conspiracy theorists seem to have forgotten jensons ruined Monaco with an overheated engine.

      Most likely bet for Monaco, mclaren pit crew are seen walking around with checklists stapled to their arms…

    5. Vinola says:

      funny.

  6. Simon says:

    Qualifying will be very critical in Monaco, there wont be any tyre saving as you need clean air to take advantage.

    On this basis I would Hamilton to win, he has been consistently quick in qualy and if he was to nab pole you cant look past him. however pitstops and strategy are as critical in Monaco so Mclaren have to get this right for their driver.

    I think also worth a shout will be Kimi, Grosjean, Alonso and Schumacher (I suppose its anyones guess)

    1. Quercus says:

      Tyre wear and slick pit stops will be everything in Monaco.

      If Hamilton takes pole again and then goes again for one less pit stop than anyone else, he’ll be unbeatable.

      1. James Clayton says:

        I don’t think the optimum strategy when starting from pole is -1 pit stop!

      2. IJW says:

        Didn’t Vettel try a one-stop strategy last year, before the race was red-flagged near the end? I remember Alonso caught him up on a 2(?) stop strategy, but Monaco being Monaco, couldn’t get pass.
        So I am wondering whether someone would try that again this year?

  7. Pat Byrne says:

    This year is so unpredictable it could be anyone!

    Hamilton probably deserves a good result, is overdue a win and was a bit of a Monaco specialist in early career. Don’t like him out of car but great driver, certainly better than his over-rated team-mate who cannot seem to adopt his driving style AT ALL when car is not exactly to his liking.

    AFAIK know both Malandano and Senna have won at Monaco in GP2. If Bruno came back strong in Monaco wouldn’t it raise goosebumps!

    One of Ferrari’s weak points is traction so I think it could be another race of Alonso performing a miricle points finish and Massa scraping into the top 15…

    1. Kay says:

      Hmms… read somewhere that to make designers’ lives easier, the car was designed around Button and Hamilton had to adjust his style to the car.

      Even so, Button still cannot get around a car that’s supposedly designed around him and Hamilton getting more out of the car than Button.

      LOL…

      1. Simon Donaldd says:

        +1 I read this too, I read Button was good at given feedback through development and now he is complaining the car has no pace, I’d respect him more if he didn’t complain so much

  8. Wade Parmino says:

    Kobayashi’s overtake on Button was legendary. These are the sorts of overtakes that F1 should be all about.

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Yep, and on Nico too… and Michael last year at Turkey, with two wheels on the grass, Alonso on the penultimate lap in Valencia 2010, and Buemi on the last corner. Button in his first Grand Prix, and his second Grand Prix for Toyota, and Kimi and Nakajima in Brazil too. Half the field in Japan 2010… Around the outside of Kimi in Albert Park, nearly being put on the grass by his teammate in China and still getting by, and…

      1. Someone needs to assemble a youtube compilation of this… or maybe it’s been done? I must find out.

    2. KinoNoNo says:

      My favourite bit of Koby footage was a slowmo clip of him counter-steering toward the Wall of Champions in Canada.

      He left two glorious skid-marks all the way from the apex of the chicane to within inches of the wall, drifting all the way.

      Most likely not the fastest way through that corner, but definitely the most awesome.

      1. DanWilliams says:

        Yes that was absolutely epic! If F1 handed out bonus points for style and excitement Kobi would be world champion!

      2. KinoNoNo says:

        Yep that’s the one.

        Loved how Martin & David described it.

        DC “Look he’s sliding towards the wall and STILL GOT HIS FOOT IN IT!”

        MB “And that’s why the fans love Kamui Kobyashi”

        Also while I was on YT, I came across of a clip of him from a children TV show when he’s was about 9 or 10 (in Japanese obviously).

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AB1TMy7RIE

        Who’d of thought, all these years later he’d be competing in F1.

  9. Al says:

    Sauber deserve a high ranking position. There performance on and off track is fantastic.

    I hope to see a Sauber race car on the podium.

    1. Kay says:

      I think you’ll be severely disappointed coz only the drivers get onto the podium not the cars :D :D :D

  10. Dan Orsino says:

    James, how do you think Force India are looking? HUL did not too bad in Spain, have they got a chance to progress here, esp if Monaco is cooler [track temp] this year?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not as good as they hoped. Rivals like Williams and Sauber have improved by more and got ahead of them.

      Di Resta did a very good job in Bahrain, however

  11. SP says:

    James,

    How well do you think Ferrari, Red Bull, Mclaren and Lotus will fare around the principality?

    I guess the temperature will play a key role and expect a similar situation for tyre strategy as we saw in Spain. Starting with the softer tyre for the opening stint and then moving onto the more durable tyre for the remaining stints.

    Really looking forward to this one!! :D

    1. James Allen says:

      Ferrari could be a struggle with traction out of slow corners. But Alonso will push.

      Red Bull and Lotus could be not far off, I reckon it’s Hamilton and Button the favourites with Maldonado on for another strong result

      1. Dave C says:

        Well just like last season, if Hsmilton mess up Monaco his season is all but over, let’s see if he can handle the pressure now he has the fastest car.

      2. James Clayton says:

        Uh no, last year Vettel was walking away with it by Monaco and teams had no real hope of catching up in the short term. This year is nothing like that so *if* Hamilton does ‘mess up’ Monaco there’s still plenty of time to make amends.

        Same goes for anybody amongst the top of the championship.

      3. SP says:

        Thanks. Same here with my thoughts on the Ferrari, traction has been an issue for them. Their updates should help them a little though.

        Red Bull should do well, always known for their traction… and we’ve seen it in a few races this year, other cars closing in on braking but the RB’s pull away on the exit. Mclaren I’m sure will be quick and I have a feeling Hamilton will win this weekend providing his weekend is gimmick free!

        Not sure on how the Lotus will perform. I’ve read rumours about thier car being stronger in high-speed corners. May just be a load of twaddle though.

        The weekend cant come soon enough!

      4. James Clayton says:

        What gimmicks has Hamilton been bringing to the races so far this year? :D

        Sorry, couldn’t resist that one!

      5. SP says:

        :D Well, apart from Nicole Scherzinger and Anthony Hamilton…. the other gimmicks are pit-stop errors/wheel gun and fuel rig. Wait, I’m forgetting one more…. Martin Whitmarsh!

        With the way things are going, one must wonder if the next race will be titled Carry On Mclaren :)

      6. Kay says:

        How can But-ton be favs when things ain’t going his way lately? o_O

        Other than winning the first race of course. Otherwise he’s been going downhill.

      7. Dan Orsino says:

        Got a feeling he will bounce back soon, maybe not through practice where he won’t bother going for headlines, but come saturday morning onwards he will be up there with Kimi of course and a surprise new contender. That’s what my crystal ball says.

      8. SP says:

        Buttons comments on car behaviour last weekend were laughable. He doesnt half whinge when the car isnt right. Just bloody get on with it! I dont expect him to bounce back in Monaco or anytime soon.

        I hear that another problem is with the tyres. He along with a few others have been using them for a few years now. So they have had enough time to get used to them. I say its just a lame excuse.

        Then we have Kimi. Hes been away for two years doesnt seem to have any issues ;) And everyone, along with himself, thought it’d be his biggest challenge.

  12. Pedro Chung says:

    Kamui Kobayashi winning in Monaco would be a superb result, being then the first Asian to win in Formula 1. If it is not him then maybe a Bruno Senna winning would not be too bad…

    1. Martin says:

      I said in another post that I’m tipping Bruno for the win, I just have a feeling that a few factors are coming together and Bruno will grasp the oppurtunity. with Bottass breathing down his neck for next season Bruno needs a good rest of the season to possibly get a seat elswhere for 2013, unless he go’s on a mad win streak I dont think he will be at Williams next season although this is no real reflection on him just that Bottass can not be ignored.
      I like Bruno I think he is a good driver who we are still yet to see the best of in F1, my feeling is he has been driving within himself afraid of making mistakes and we know what happens then, mistakes are inevitable, it cant be easy being Ayrtons nephew and starting late in F1, but for Bruno it is time to stop being Ayrton Sennas nephew and to start being the Bruno Senna who was beating F1′s latest race winner around the Monaco streets in GP2 in o8 and I think bruno knows it too.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I really can’t see it.
        Whatever the pressures of being Ayrton’s nephew, I just don’t get the impression of him being anything other than a nice guy.
        Jacques Villeneuve entered F1 in 1996 and refused to talk about his father in interviews, another icon lost to the sport, and equally a legend too.
        By all accounts he wasn’t too nice a person either. Yet in the early days was a determined individual and very forthright in his views.

        Fair play if he does, but I wouldn’t place any money on a driver who spun off in the only corner I have never seen an incident before at Barcelona.

      2. Martin says:

        For the record, that Martin isn’t me, your normal Ferrari-Senna debator :-)

        For Senns to win it would be be two first time winners in the same team in successive races. Farina and Fangio don’t really count. That leaves Gonzales and Ascari in 51 with the first non-Alfa wins and I cannot think of another time it might have happened.

        I take it that you were referring to Jacques not being the nice person?

        Cheers,

        Martin

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        Yes, I referred to Jacques, but I met him once at Silverstone and he seemed fine with me. Although, a lot of what was being spoken about was his manager at the time Craig Pollock, advising him about his conduct.

      4. Elie says:

        I think I said it to you in another post too — Keep Dreaming man! I

      5. Martin says:

        I’m the Martin who tipped Bruno :) I know it’s a long shot but I just have a feeling, I’m not a betting man, in fact I have never put a bet on in my life, but I might just have a tenner on him, how about a Williams 1-2 :)

  13. Koby Fan says:

    Koby’s style seems to suit high speed circuits better than street circuits; so it would be a good surprise if he can finish higher up than P5. He really needs to string a strong quali and strong race together. Silverstone could be the one.

    I’m putting my money on Maldonado and Checo both being on the podium in Monaco (not sure which place)…

  14. Bayden says:

    Hi James,

    I have a theory which may be flawed, but does have some credibility, explained in this piece – http://real-motorsport.com/2012/05/16/how-to-win-a-grand-prix-in-2012/

    Each winner this season has finished fifth or finished outside the points/retired at the previous race, working on an alternating basis, therefore the winner at Monaco should be the man who finished fifth at Spain…

    So the winner at Monaco will be…

    Kamui Kobayashi.

    Otherwise, it has to be Kimi, who is the only other man to finish fifth this season who has yet to win a race!

    Also, whoever wins a race, seems to endure an average follow up race i.e. outside the top four, so success is surrounded by mediocrity… it will be interesting to see if this trend continues at Monaco.

    Cheers!

    1. Quercus says:

      Looking to see patterns in these statistics like this is illogical. But it’s what the human brain does; so if it makes you happy…

      1. Kay says:

        +1 lol

    2. Kay says:

      Guess teams don’t need strategists and mathematicians anymore lol. Just get some school kid to do it and they’d win.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I’m sure Russell Grant’s fortune telling, sorry astrological genius, would be wisely employed by this billion dollar sport..

  15. Matt says:

    Does anyone know the extent of the damage in the Williams garage? The fire looked very severe, and I was wondering if the teams had back-up gear in case of something like this. I know Mclaren have offered some equipment, but how much do you think it will affect the team going into Monaco?

    1. Matt says:

      Oops sorry I meant for this comment to be on the Maldonado article, I’ll repost there.

  16. Dave Aston says:

    Thanks for the Kamui article; I’m a huge fan, and hope he gets a top drive next year. I like what an Italian Journo says in a youtube KK tribute, ‘I have big respect of Kamui; he is like a fresh air in Formula One. He is like a kind of driver from the old era, like Regazzoni, like Ronnie Peterson… like the people that make the public dream’.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkDwWG7kT9A

    Ironically, I do think his overtaking prowess overshadows his ability to regularly bring it home in the points; I think he’d be a great fit at Red Bull. I wonder what Mateschitz, Marko and Christian Homer think?

    The talk of Peter Sauber this week reminds me how he’s given a lot of young guys a chance, Kimi, Massa, Perez too. After the poetry of Williams getting a win on Frank’s 70th birthday weekend, a proper first Sauber win this year would be great for the sport. What a crazy season. With Lewis, Schumi, Webber and Grosjean, and Sauber ready to win, we could go 9 or 10 races without a repeat winner!

    1. CanadaGP says:

      Kamui fan here. Koba does remind me of the old devil may care racers more than any current driver. Gilles Villeneuve, Peterson, Regazzoni, Mike Hailwood, Jochen Rindt-many of who died or were seriously injured. Yet Koba does not have a reputation as a crasher and seems to have the ability to make improbable yet clean overtakes. I used to wish him in a Ferrari seat but on second thought he might be a better fit marketing wise for Red Bull.

      1. Dave Aston says:

        We need to start a fan’s petition to help convince Christian Homer.

  17. Kevin H says:

    Really hope Mclaren can get a 1-2 in Monaco. I Also hope that Kobayashi can fill the last spot on the podium for he is an exceptional driver. What are the tyres allocated for Monaco James? Will we be seeing Super Softs for the first time this year?

    KH

    1. Simon Donaldd says:

      Yeah that was confirmed a while ago by Pirelli super soft and soft

  18. Daniel MA says:

    How did they manage to move the barriers on the exit of the tunnel? I thought there was a building or something in the way.

    1. Dave Aston says:

      They moved the tunnel.

  19. Andrew Kirk says:

    Question James who gets the prize for the most improved driver so far this year?

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Has his driving improved or his attitude?

        Also, where would you place Maldonado in the context of improvement over last year?

      2. Joshua says:

        +1

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Maldonado?

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