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Belgian GP: A miserable afternoon for Sauber at Spa-Francorchamps


By Berthold Bouman

Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez started the Belgian Grand Prix from second and fourth position on the grid this afternoon, their best qualifying performance of the season. Even before the start things got a bit hairy for Kobayashi, as his brakes started to smoke heavily and Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn was seen watching the data screens with a worried face.

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber

But it was soon over anyway for the Swiss outfit, Romain Grosjean in the Lotus caused a multiple-car collision which took out the car of Perez after just 300 metres, while Kobayashi had to limb back to the pits for repairs. What should have been a great opportunity for the Hinwill-based team of Peter Sauber to score a podium place or even a win, became a bitter disappointment as Kobayashi finished the race outside the points in 13th place.

“I am very disappointed for myself and the team as it was such a good opportunity for us to fight for a victory today,” said Perez. He explained what happened, “Pastor Maldonado had a jump start first of all. I went on the inside of Fernando Alonso. I was going into Turn One, braking and then suddenly the cars came from behind and hit me and it was a big mess.”

Japanese driver Kobayashi was equally disappointed, “This is a terrible race result after we had been doing so well in qualifying,” he said, adding, “There was nothing I could do when a car came flying into mine after the start. I had to pit once for some repairs and then again after seven laps because of a slow puncture.”

About the race he said, “During the race I didn’t really know how bad the damage to the car was, but I could see a tyre print on the cockpit all the time. Later in parc fermé I understood why I was so slow, as the side pod and some other bodywork had gone.

“Apparently before the start my car drew a lot of attention because of the smoke. The brakes were too hot, but I was still able to finish the race with them. I don’t know why I then also had more wheel spin than expected, so we are looking into that as well.”

Kaltenborn was also disappointed, but there is nothing one can do she said, “It is very disappointing that once again factors beyond our control have ruined another race of ours. We have to take the positive out of this weekend that if we don’t make mistakes and get the right qualifying we can be right in front, and that has to be our target again for the next race.”

All in all, a miserable afternoon and a race to forget for the Sauber team at Spa-Francorchamps today.

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