Weather: sunny and dry,12 -21°C air, 15-31° track
COTA, the brand new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, offers everything a race driver could ask for. For the Sauber F1 Team on the rollercoaster track both free practice sessions on Friday went okay. The new tarmac allows for lap times to improve minute by minute, despite the fact the combination of hard tyres and low track temperatures keep the general grip level low. In the afternoon the team began with proper set up work for the United States Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship. Neither Kamui Kobayashi nor Sergio Pérez are really happy with their cars yet, but are positive they will find solutions to improve them.
Sergio regards the race in Austin as his home Grand Prix. Tens of thousands of Mexicans are expected to attend. Sergio is wearing a special helmet design for the race weekend: It is dominated by the colours of Mexico – green, white and red – and features the shape of the state of Texas in the background with Sergio’s initials over this. After the race weekend one helmet in this special design will be auctioned for charity by the Pérez’ foundation.
Sauber C31-Ferrari (Chassis 04/Ferrari 056)
1st Practice: 8th / 1:41.036 min (28 laps) / 2nd Practice: 9th / 1:39.693 min (33 laps)
“The high speed corners of the new circuit are very enjoyable, I really like driving here. The first session was about getting familiar with the track and waiting for the tarmac to improve for a better grip level. In the beginning of the second session I did a 20-lap long run on hard tyres before we then had a break due to a broken exhaust. But the mechanics fixed the car quickly and I was able to go out on medium compound tyres as well. I must say I have big warm up problems with both compounds. It just doesn’t work in qualifying if you need ten laps to get the tyres to work. We will now go and look for solutions.“
Sauber C31-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari 056)
1st Practice: 10th / 1:41.473 min (29 laps) / 2nd Practice: 14th / 1:40.326 min (35 laps)
“We had a good day in terms of getting all the programme done without any issues. The track is amazing, and I especially like the first sector a lot. I really believe we will see a great race here and I can’t wait to race in front of so many Mexicans. Nevertheless I am not happy with the balance of my car yet, but I’m confident we will manage to improve it.“
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
“Given that this track is all new, we produced a different programme for the two cars in order to cover as many variables as possible. Although we had a broken exhaust on Kamui’s car we managed to complete our task list. The biggest challenge is to get the tyres to work, as they are definitely too hard for the circuit. Otherwise everything went fine today.”