F1 testing: Kobayashi tops timesheets for Sauber

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarThursday, February 11th, 2010

 
 

It’s not been quite as dramatic as Jenson Button’s and Rubens Barrichello’s 2009 ascendancy with Brawn GP – but the subtle strength of Sauber and of its two race-deprived drivers could turn out to be the story of the 2010 tests.

Today Kamui Kobayashi, who raced just twice for Toyota in 2009 following an injury to Timo Glock, put the C29 at the top of the timesheets, maybe while it was running on fumes, but nevertheless ahead of members of the Formula One race- and championship-winning aristocracy including Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Robert Kubica and Mark Webber.

Of course, everybody is stressing that this is just testing, the teams and drivers don’t have their cars bedded in yet, and we are in no position to make comparisons without some notion of fuel weights.

Granted, but you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel pleased for a driver that looked to be out of luck for a full-time drive this season and was reputedly due to return to a previous job as a sushi chef in his father’s restaurant instead.

After the race he told Autosport: “I’m still a rookie. There are many tracks I don’t know in Formula 1 so this makes quite a big difference. Even after three or four hours’ practice and qualifying it’s still not easy.

“But possibly we have a chance for me to have some podiums, but otherwise it’s very important to always score points. Not tenth or ninth, always stay like fourth to eighth – this is really important for us.”

Former McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa, about to embark in his first full season as a race driver since 2002, also impressed at the earlier Valencia test with a performance that, in speed terms, was often second only to Ferrari.

Other talking points from the day included Jenson Button’s increased assurance at the wheel of the McLaren MP4-25 and the success of Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher in putting his formerly-broken neck through 124 laps of the Jerez circuit – comparable to a grand prix distance.

Virgin followed up its tally of just five laps yesterday with 11 today. The car had to be brought in after a front wing mounting failed, causing the offending part to fall off the car. The team then found itself short of the spare parts necessary to effect a repair and the day’s running was over.

The team shrugged off the problem, saying they were encouraged with the car’s performance in the 16 laps it had managed, but the pressure is definitely on for the team to get some mileage on that car tomorrow and justify its presence in Jerez.

Jerez test times day two

  1. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber: 1:19.950 (103 laps)
  2. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso: 1:20.026 (121 laps)
  3. Jenson Button, McLaren: 1:20.618 (83 laps)
  4. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams: 1:20.629 (67 laps)
  5. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India: 1:20.754 (80 laps)
  6. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes: 1:21.083 (124 laps)
  7. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari: 1:21.424 (129 laps)
  8. Robert Kubica, Renault: 1:22.003 (103 laps)
  9. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault: 1:22.043 (99 laps)
  10. Timo Glock, Virgin: 1:29.964 (11 laps)

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