Boss helped Kobayashi climb Suzuka grid

By on Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kamui Kobayashi. Photo credit: Sauber Motorsport AG

Without setting a time in the decisive Q3 at Suzuka, local hero Kamui Kobayashi moved up three places and will start the race from seventh.

The provisional results had showed the Japanese in tenth place, as the driver with the highest race number behind fellow non-runners Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali hit out at the growing trend of drivers sitting out qualifying in order to save tyres for the race.

"I think it shows something is not right in the way qualifying is run and we should give it some careful thought for the future," he said.

Indeed, in the post-session confusion, Sauber team manager Beat Zehnder should receive the credit for pushing overtaking-master Kobayashi three places up the grid simply by pressing the FIA's regulations to the letter.

According to Blick newspaper, Kobayashi had always planned to abort his Q3 flying lap because it would guarantee him a higher grid placing than the other non-runners who did not exit their pits at all.

"The Japanese has the clever Sauber team manager (Zehnder) to thank," wrote veteran correspondent Roger Benoit.

Pirelli's Paul Hembery joined Domenicali in criticising the current rules. His first proposal - special tyres for qualifying - has been ruled out for 2012 by the teams.

"We will be working with the teams and the FIA to find a solution that is acceptable to everybody to avoid this kind of scenario in the future, as it is not fair on the spectators," he said.

But the drivers themselves do not all agree that the spectacle of qualifying has been dimmed by the exploitation of the current rules.

"Has it?" wondered Jenson Button after qualifying less than a hundredth of a second behind pole sitter Sebastian Vettel.

"It's different from where we are sitting, I think.

"When you're fighting for pole and it's that close I think it's a massive spectacle, having two different makes of car and engine, and two different drivers fighting it out and being that close in qualifying is phenomenal," he added.

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