Kamui Kobayashi joins Sauber for 2010

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Kamui Kobayashi impressed in his second race for Toyota at Abu Dhabi

Kamui Kobayashi will stay in F1 after being signed by Peter Sauber’s team for 2010.

The Japanese driver’s F1 career was in doubt after Toyota, who backed his career for many years and gave him his F1 break, pulled out of the sport.

Peter Sauber said Kobayashi’s performances at Interlagos and Yas Island has played a big role in his decision to add him to his 2010 F1 driver line-up:

I’m very much looking forward to working together with Kamui. In the final two Grand Prix of last season he was granted an unexpected chance to show his skills, and he made impressive use of it. 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.
Peter Sauber

It’s not clear whether Kobayashi has brought any sponsorship with him as part of the deal.

The deal means F1 will have at least one Japanese driver next year despite Kazuki Nakajima losing his seat with Williams and Takuma Sato failing to land a drive with Lotus.

Kobayashi said he was proud to be carrying on in Formula 1:

Ever since the start of my career I have dreamed of racing in Formula One. 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.
Kamui Kobayashi

Sauber press release:

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Kamui Kobayashi joins Sauber

Image (C) Toyota F1 World

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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70 comments on “Kamui Kobayashi joins Sauber for 2010”

  1. Glad Peter Sauber agrees that Kobayashi’s performance at Interlagos & Abu Dhabi was impressive enough to earn a seat. Be a shame to see a talent like that working in a sushi restaurant.If he brings no sponsor, I doubt Sauber will have problem attracting one, if they know anything about F1.

    1. before he picked up a seat, i read somewhere that he has no sponsors, no money, no backing at all, hence next year if he doesnt get a seat he’ll be working at his dad’s sushi restaurant. no money to go racing in any category.

    2. I was going to be amazed if he wasn’t picked up. He was a rookie that performed like a veteran.

  2. Hooray, is all I can say. :D

    1. +1
      This guy has talent…!

    2. Totally agreed. This is great news! He will probably even have a better chance at being competitive with Sauber-Ferrari than he would have had with Toyota…

  3. Does that mean that the team will be:

    Panasonic Sauber Ferrari?

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      17th December 2009, 10:18

      I don’t think so – Panasonic’s involvement it unclear, and I honestly think it was exaggerated by people who wanted to see Kobayashi get a drive.

        1. Wouldn’t be so sure tho PM is right that it’s unclear. Joe Saward and James Allen seem to agree Panasonic are involved, I’m sure we’ll find out soon.

    2. More likely Sauber-Toyota. It wouldn’t cost them too much to rebuild the engines from this year and supply them to Sauber.

  4. The deal means F1 will have at least one F1 driver next year despite Kazuki Nakajima

    do you mean at least one Japanese F1 driver. otherwise it is going to be very much a one horse race so to speak…!

    1. Sorry – fixed it!

      1. Hi Keith,

        Good to see Sauber staying in F1 and also that they’ve signed up a promising talent in Kamui. But I do have a doubt–> Are they going to stick with BMW engines or are they going for Cosworth??

        I didn’t happen to see any mention of this anywhere. Has it been announced??

        1. Bud, it was announced about 2 months ago that Sauber would be using Ferrari engines if they received a grid slot.

          1. They can change their mind any time they like.Probably 2 nanoseconds after KK’s manager offered them a balls out racing driver with a truck load of free F1 Toyota motors!

  5. As long as the car he will be driving is up to scratch I hope we get to see more of the two performances he managed to pull off this year.

  6. F1 will have at least Japanese ? driver

  7. F1 will have at least one Japanese ? driver

    1. Uhh, yeah, he’s Japanese

  8. Good to see a Japanese driver with lots of promise. I know he only had 2 races but he did not look out of place. It is also important for the sport and sponsors to have a driver from Japan. Lets hope in time he can prove he’s got it.

  9. Nice to see Kobayashi has secured a seat for next year, he showed promise in his first two Grand Prix even if his career before that wasn’t as spectacular as some other drivers.

  10. I’m really pleased with this news, I was hoping he would find a seat, he will be in good hands with Sauber.

    His aggressive performances last season were great to watch, I just hope it wasn’t all down to having nothing to loose, and he doesn’t tighten up over a whole season!

    I have to say, with all the driver movement, new teams and rule changes, I am more excited for next season than I have been in a very long time! Bring on 2010!

  11. Wow, great news!
    I’m a fan of him.

  12. it would of been a crime against humanity if kobayashi did not get a drive in the 2010 f1 season. good decision by peter sauber, a true racing team manager.

    1. Yes peter sauber is a racer and its nice to hear his name being thrown around again

  13. Good call, Mr Sauber. That could be a fast car, the BMW was surprisingly good at the end of 09 for a team that was pulling out.

    Why’s it still BMW Sauber in the press release?

    1. Maybe they haven’t got around to printing up new logos and whatnot for the re-Sauber’d team. Great news to see Koby back again. I’m thinking Heidfeld may be his partner next season, what with the second Merc seat seemingly having Schumacher’s bum-prints all over it.

  14. Fantastic news. I was very impressed by Kamui’s perfomance at Abu Dhabi. The guy is a true racer! Him taking on Jenson like that! That was awesome. 2010 is going to be exciting. Can hardly wait.

  15. I just wonder if he keeps it up. Nakajima perfomed resonably similar in his first 2 races.

    Anwyay, good that he gets the chance.

  16. 2010 is a year of the tiger and i wanna see him in a battle with schumacher, alonso and hamilton

    1. Let’s not forget Vettel. I’m curious to see how Kobayashi will do. He’s a tremendous talent, that’s something he showed in the toyota last year. But how good is he at the car set-up? Will he equal the likes of Alonso and Vettel? We’ll have to wait and see. I also wonder if he’s able to match Hülkenberg in F1. He got destroyed by the young German in GP2. Anyway, very happy to see him back in F1! The guy clearly has a very attractive driving style!

  17. 2010 is also a Year of the Tiger and Rabbit in the Chinese Calendar.

    Lets hope Kobayashi’s performance is not the latter… =)

  18. Good, good. Peter Sauber has strange powers when it comes to choosing his drivers. Go Kamui!

  19. Just read this just now… Wooohooooo!!!
    Fantastic, so chuffed for him. I guess that Panasonic money must have helped somewhat. Can’t wait for the racing to start! :D

  20. Yes 2009 was hardly the year of the tiger was it !

    At last a Japanese driver there on merit. I just hope he keeps his gung ho attitude, too many gun slingers come into f1 and get finger wagged to death if they dare to move in the braking zone or shut the door on someone.

  21. Good news!! Bloke deserves a chance

  22. Great news! Was hoping more for Renault but since BMW were more competive than them last year, maybe Sauber will be a better bet after all. I think Koba will have a much better environment at Sauber so who knows, maybe a shock podium for Kamui.

  23. Good news indeeed. If Peter Sauber can calm him down, teach him to manage his tyres, we might see the most impressive Japanese driver yet. This is good for the sport, good for the public and good for Mr E, whom I am sure had more input than Panasonic on this, realising the impact Kamui made on the fans. This will balance the grid and keep the established “stars”on their toes as the world champion can testyfy. Still think Kubica is going to be wasted at Renault and would prefer him at Mercedes with Rosberg!

  24. Good news!! If BMW really did keep developing next year’s car throughout the 09 season, Sauber just might have a decent car and Kobayashi might be able to ruffle some feathers around the mid pack. It will be interesting to watch. 2010 is building up to be an awesome season that promises to be ultra competitive with so many good drivers in cars that are capable of winning races.

  25. yesssssss!!!!!!! this has brightened up my day. :)

  26. Yay!!! I was hoping someone would snap him up as he was absolutely fantastic in the last 2 races.

    Kobayashi driving, Lewis and Jenson as team mates, Lotus back….I can’t wait for the season to start now!

    How many sleeps is it now? :-)

  27. That’s awesome! I am glad Kamui got a drive. I was hoping with Toyota but oh well, look what happened to Toyota. He’s better off at Sauber anyways.

  28. Great news… I am so very happy for him…

  29. Yes, excellent!

    If/when Schumi comes back too, I know I will watch F1 next year now. When Kimi quit I was considering giving up.

  30. i dont think Peter really impressed by Kamui’s performance in last two grand prix. All he want is Panasonics money. Peter was only talking about using experienced driver for next year at the time he toke over BMW. Im not sure Kamui will drive full season next year

  31. That is great I was hopeing for him to get a seat. Nice to see the line up filling out.

  32. I am happy to see him in a race seat.

  33. good and brave decision. BTW Sauber also gave such chances to massa and kimi. Sauber is good at picking promising talents it seems.

    All the best kobayashi and sauber team.

  34. Sauber has a penchant for spotting talented young drivers, I can’t imagine why another team didn’t snap him up while Sauber was in F1 limbo.

    Good for both of them!

  35. BANZAI!!! Great to see Kobyashi got a drive, I’ve been raving about him since Brazil. It makes it even better that he’s going to Sauber giving everyone another reason to support that great team.

  36. I am so very happy for him… Hope he does not do a Nakazima..

  37. Go Kobayashi!!!

  38. Excellent! I have rarely been so enthusiastic about a newcomer. I hope Sauber will be a good team so that he can show what he is capable of. Strange that he made such a strong impression in f1 after an average GP2 career…

  39. This guy impressed all of us didn’t he?F1 needs more drivers like Kobayashi now that Montoya is gone.Congrats Kamui!

  40. SWEEEEEET! i was hoping this guy would gat to race next year!

  41. Decent hire. But I like this hire a lot personally.

  42. Great news. Any idea who his teammate will be? I thought Quick Nick would be a shoo in, but it seems odd to announce Koby before Nick.

  43. interesting to note that he has been selected as their 1st driver even though he’s a rookie…

  44. Seriously, am I the only one who hasn’t jumped all over the Kobayashi news?

    Yes, he did have a very good set of races to end the year, and those were on short notice without much time to prepare. But still…the guy has raced in just two Grands Prix. I hate to sound too complicated, but in the two years I have been following F1, that’s the thing I have noticed msot about F1 fans….quick to praise guys who put in a good drive or two, and even quicker to tear down guys who put in a bad drive or two. Seriously, how many of you were calling for Massa to be fired from Ferrari after Sepang in 2008? C’mon, put your hands up so we can see you….

    With that in mind, I will save any comparisons with Schumi/Vettel/Alonso until he actually shows up and beats those guys on a consistent basis.

    1. To a point I agree. Kobayashi has it all to do next year at Sauber, now he has the chance to do so. But that is the point isn’t it, he HAS the chance in the first place!
      The most tragic thing about the demise of Toyota in F1 was that this young man may have missed his one and only chance to prove himself at the highest level. In the two events he took part in, he showed all the qualities most people look for in a racing driver.
      This is a just decision, and I wish him all the best.

      1. Yes, indeed you make good points. As I just said in the forum, I am just a bit curious to see how the press and fans react when he (like all drivers) has a few poor results this season. His debut was fantastic, about as good as a rookie can hope to do- with a car that was not a top machine. But with a debut like that comes increased expectations, which are very much magnified in the fishbowl that is F1.

        Best of luck to KK this season- I look forward to cheering him on.

        1. You are right about the ‘expectation’ being put on Kobayashi’s shoulders. Your earlier comparison about Felipe Massa was also very true, many people on this very site ‘DID’ call for the Brazilian to be fired back in 2008. The very same people, nine months later, lauded him for his remarkable turnaround and the way in which he took to fight to Lewis Hamilton.
          With Kobayashi though, I just get the impression that this is a man who has made his way in life under his own steam. Unlike Nakijima at Williams, Kobayashi’s link with Sauber does not intertwine with an engine partnership deal. He is not the son of a former F1 driver, which has become very fashionable in recent years. His success, although limited, has been achieved by his own ability and not spoon fed him.
          Also, and it bears mentioning, this guy was also an alsoran in GP2, the series we are told you have to win to stand a chance of driving a Formula One car.
          Nelson Piquet Jnr was, and still is, the best recent example of a former GP2 champion completely falling apart once put into a Formula One car. Many have criticised other drivers too, such as Grosjean who was supposed to be another Lewis or Fernando in the making.
          Then there was Sebastien Bourdais, who as we all know won so much in America in Champcars yet could not keep his F1 drive due to poor results.
          So, there are plenty of factors to consider, but you are right! There will be critics if Kobayashi flounders, and there will be those who criticise Peter Sauber too for hiring him. If anybody knows about baptisms of fire in a Sauber, then its Felipe Massa, and look at him now.

          1. I agree, but just one thing…Piquet Jr. was never GP2 Champion. He finished runner-up to Hamilton for the 2006 title.

  45. As far as I can recall this is the first time we have had a Japanese driver who has not been pushed in to the seat by a manufacturer or engine supplier.

    Let’s hope that without that pressure/Stigma he can get on with the driving and really show us what he is made of!

    1. I agree that is the first time i see a Japanese becoming a real F1 driver!
      And 2010 for the first time i wanna buy a ticket to see him on Suzuka Circuit.

      For me, the most important isnt a podium but a Show! Like the overtake he made on a Ferrari with experienced driver Fisichella.


  46. I hope Kamui turns into a star – his Macau pole position a few years ago may be his best accomplishment yet. Along with his brilliant Abu Dhabi race, I am thinking perhaps he’s a good street course talent. Seems most previous Japanese F1 drivers were somewhat the opposite, so maybe this is a good thing for him.

  47. Kamui I wish you all the best in the next season, I was really impresed with your first entrancr into F1, it’s nice to see a new racer in the pack

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