Kamui Kobayashi's impressive performances standing in for the injured Toyota driver Timo Glock for the final two Formula One races of last season have earned the Japanese driver a permanent drive for 2010 with the Sauber team. Kobayashi replaced the German after he sustained a leg injury following a crash in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix back in October.
He finished a credible ninth place in Brazil before driving a superb race to finish in sixth place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in the final race of the 2009 season. The 23-year-old appeared to be in the driving seat, literally, for a ride with the Japanese team. However, Toyota's withdrawal from the sport because of spiralling costs of running the team in a time when the manufacturer was suffering the effects of the economic climate left Kobayashi's future in disarray and even left him considering going back to work at his father's Sushi restaurant in his homeland.
But Peter Sauber, who is once more in charge of his own team after recently concluding a buy-out deal with BMW, said he was happy to hand Kobayashi the chance to further prove his talent. "In the final two Grands Prix of last season he was granted an unexpected chance to show his skills, and he made impressive use of it," said Sauber. "Particularly in the Abu Dhabi race he demonstrated not only that he can drive fast and aggressively, but also his ability to successfully implement a strategy.
"I am convinced he has a great deal of potential and will be able to make the most of it in our team." Kobayashi, who has previously competed in Formula Renault, Formula Three Euro Series, GP2 and GP2 Asia, winning the latter title last year, is naturally thrilled to be continuing his racing career in the sport. "Ever since the start of my career I have dreamed of racing in Formula One," said Kobayashi.
"Now this dream has come true. I am very happy that my two races in 2009 have earned me a cockpit place. "I will do my very best for Peter Sauber's team, and I am proud to be able to carry on flying the Japanese flag in Formula One." * With agencies