Kamui Kobayashi: 'Risky' tyre strategy led to Fuji WEC win

Kamui Kobayashi has explained the tyre calls that led to he and his team-mates in the #7 Toyota taking their first FIA World Endurance Championship of the season at Fuji

Kamui Kobayashi: 'Risky' tyre strategy led to Fuji WEC win

With the race starting in wet conditions, the #7 and #8 Toyotas went for diverging tyre choices, but Kobayashi came into the pits after just 10 laps to switch to the same extreme wets that Kazuki Nakajima was using on the sister car.

That meant that the #7 car took the advantage as the safety car was deployed after 30 minutes when the MR Racing Ferrari suffered a puncture and covered the track with debris, which eliminated the early lead built by Nakajima.

Kobayashi gained further ground when he switched directly from full wets to slicks after the caution period, while Nakajima stayed on intermediates before moving to dry tyres a few laps later.

From there on, the #7 machine shared by Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez held an edge over the #8 car of Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Fernando Alonso, with Kobayashi, Conway and Lopez clinching their first win of the season.

"We had to start from P8 and we had to have a take some risks on the strategy; that is why we didn't take the extreme wet tyre, and we were struggling to warm them up," said Kobayashi.

"After the second lap we only had the same speed as the privateers, so we decided to change to the same [compound] as car #8, and straight away our laptimes were quite good.

"We decided to jump on to dry tyres and we gained a lot of positions and gap during the safety car."

Conway took over from Kobayashi for the middle part of the race and was able to extend the #7 car's lead advantage.

"It was tricky because at points we were on the new tyre and they were on the old, and vice versa," said Conway. "When Fernando jumped in [the #8] he was on the new [tyre].

"It was hard, but we managed to pull out the gap a little bit more, which was good. We've been banging on the door the last couple of years, so to get it done at [Toyota's] home race is obviously great."

Alonso balance troubles

For his part, Alonso said he and his team-mates were "unlucky" to have their early lead nullified, but also admitted he was having issues with the #8 car's balance in his stint.

"We were 1m20s in front [of the #7 car] and the Ferrari had a tyre explosion and all that advantage was neutralised [by the safety car]," the Spaniard recalled.

"We took the right choice of tyres with wet tyres at the start, the sister car took another tyre and they had to stop.

"After [the race] was neutralised, we were not quick enough to battle [car #7], we were always missing a couple of tenths.

"[The balance] was not great. We were struggling with understeer in high-speed corners, and the last sector was not great, either. We didn't have the speed we had other times."

Despite losing out on victory at Fuji, Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima extended their points lead to 13 over Kobayashi, Lopez and Conway, helped by the #3 Rebellion failing to finish after Gustavo Menezes' crash.

shares
comments
Fuji WEC: First win for two years for Toyota's Kobayashi and Conway
Previous article

Fuji WEC: First win for two years for Toyota's Kobayashi and Conway

Next article

Alternator issue cost SMP Racing likely Fuji podium - Jenson Button

Alternator issue cost SMP Racing likely Fuji podium - Jenson Button
Load comments
Why an F1-snubbed British world champion has no regrets in retirement Plus

Why an F1-snubbed British world champion has no regrets in retirement

He may not have won the Le Mans 24 Hours - falling agonisingly short in 2016 - and didn't get the opportunities in Formula 1 his talents merited. But after calling time on his professional career last month, Anthony Davidson says his pride in his performances with Peugeot and Toyota in LMP1 mean more than the results he achieved

WEC
Dec 17, 2021
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Plus

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Autosport recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Plus

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Plus

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Plus

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title Plus

How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title

In the penultimate round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship, a better run of tyre wear for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi brought the Toyota trio its third win from five events, as the #7 squad put one hand on the title. Here's how the first of the WEC's two Bahrain enduros played out

WEC
Nov 1, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021