Kamui Kobayashi described his mid-race brake failure that led to his retirement from yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix, not surprisingly, as a “pretty scary moment”.
The Japanese driver had just started his 36th lap of the race when his Caterham failed to slow for the Turn 1 right-hander, sending him into the run-off where he just managed to avoid hitting the tyre wall. He limped his CT05 back to the pits and retired from the race, marking his second retirement of the 2014 season.
His other DNF came at the season-opening Australian and was also brake-related. There he crashed just seconds into the race with a total brake failure, slamming into Felipe Massa’s Williams at Turn 1.
This time, at least, Kobayashi was able to exit the race without damage to the car, a fact for which he was extremely relieved.
“My start was pretty good and I was up to 18th by the end of lap one having passed [Max] Chilton, but I couldn’t keep [Pastor] Maldonado or [Jean-Eric] Vergne behind me and lost places to them by lap five so just focused on my own race,” he said in his post-race debrief with the media.
“The car felt OK but I still had the same traction issues as we’d had all weekend so it was still a bit of a handful, but the deg levels on the first set of medium tyres that we’d started with were good so we could run a very long first stint, finally boxing on Lap 23 for another set of mediums.
“The car felt better on the second set of tyres and I was able to make up some time to [Jules] Bianchi ahead, but then on Lap 44 I had a pretty scary moment going into turn one when the left front brake failed and I was just able to keep the car out of the wall. That was the end of my race and the end of a difficult weekend,” he shrugged.
While Caterham made headlines for an internal technical reshuffle, the Japanese driver remained hopeful that a committee-based leadership of the team’s design and engineering departments would help get it off the back of the grid.
“We clearly don’t have the performance we’re targeting, but changes have been made to help us sort this out and the whole team is working harder than ever to make progress, and we have two days of testing here to help us learn more about the new parts we brought to Spain, so we’ll aim to fight back in Monaco.”
Teammate Marcus Ericsson finished twentieth and last; his race hampered by imbalance and an early-race clash with Pastor Maldonado for which the Venezuelan was penalised.
“Maldonado hit me pretty hard as he tried to pass going into Turn 13. His move risked putting both of us out of the race, but luckily the car was OK and I was able to continue, even though that had put me back to 22nd,” the Swede said afterwards.
“My pace in the early laps was OK but the car balance wasn’t great so I couldn’t really do anything to stay with Chilton who’d got past when Maldonado made contact with me.
“In the high speed corners it was understeering too much but it was the opposite in the low speed turns, oversteering a lot which, combined, meant I just couldn’t push anywhere.
“We did a long stint on the second set of mediums, pushing them to lap 40 when we made the second stop, switching to a set of new hards to run to the flag. From that point my focus was just making sure I could get to the end and bring a tough race weekend to a close. For me it’s another Grand Prix under my belt, another chance to learn and as hard as it’s been, I know we can improve so I’m as positive as ever and excited about racing in my first F1 race in Monaco in a couple of weeks.”
Images via XPB Images