Kobayashi feels like a real F1 driver after podium

2012 Japanese Grand Prix

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Kamui Kobayashi said he “instantly relaxed” when he crossed the line to score his first podium finish.

“All the pressure came off,” when he clinched third place in yesterday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, he said in a Q&A released by Sauber.

“I’ve always felt that if you ever want to look back and regard yourself as a Formula One driver, you have to have been on the podium at least once. Without such a photo it’s a bit as if you had never been there. So it means a lot to me.”

Kobayashi said he “cannot put into words” how it felt to achieve his first podium finish on home ground.

“It was a fantastic feeling to see all the people in my home country so emotional and happy. It gave me such a lot and I will never forget that moment. I want to thank the Japanese fans for the great support they gave to the Sauber F1 Team and to myself.”

“I had great faith in our team,” he added. “I knew we had a fast car; and thirdly, it was clear to me that Suzuka is the perfect track for it. Despite becoming a bit uncertain during Friday, I was very positive again on Saturday and after the formation lap I really had the feeling it would all go well this time.

“I had a couple of chances earlier in the season but missed them due to bad luck. I knew that the potential was there and this time it all went smoothly.”

Kobayashi described the Grand Prix as a “very intense weekend”.

“I had a lot of confidence before we came to Japan, but then on Friday we were slower than expected, which was a bit worrying. Then qualifying went well, except I lost time due to a yellow flag, and the race was close until the very end.”

2012 Japanese Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    34 comments on “Kobayashi feels like a real F1 driver after podium”

    1. Quality drive. One of the more interesting points of the race and one of the only reasons I will remember it. The fans were also great.

    2. I’m thrilled for Kobayashi, he fully deserved that podium. The best part was when the Japanese fans were chanting his name before the podium presentation.

    3. On a side note with this picture, it’s nice to see the Sauber kit getting splurged with more sponsors these days. Hopefully the cashflow will push Sauber a bit further up the grid.

      1. @mouse_nightshirt Definitely. 2010 was particular barren for them.

      2. Success breeds success. Good results for Sauber mean more companies are interested in sponsoring them, and more sponsorship money means the team can increase their car development expenditure in the future.

        I’m happy for them; they’re an easy team to like, from their management right down to their drivers.

    4. I’m a Button fan, but it was still great seeing Kamui get a podium. He seems a cool guy, had to laugh at a little mini-interview with him before qualifying where he was mournfully talking about missing out on his breakfast due to all the fans asking him for autographs. Hope he keeps his drive next year and finds a bit more of that overtaking spirit we all love.

    5. It was really one of the highlight of the season for me to see Kobayashi on the podium in front of the Japanese crowd. They got a well deserved reward for a great weekend (both the driver and the fans).

      Sadly from his words I feel very much he is not counting on driving next year, something I think would be a great shame – i mean this line:

      “I’ve always felt that if you ever want to look back and regard yourself as a Formula One driver, you have to have been on the podium at least once. Without such a photo it’s a bit as if you had never been there. So it means a lot to me.”

      1. Hopefully at the same time, the ‘pressure’ he talks about is off his shoulders – maybe the podium is what he needed to prove to his team!

        Either way, I love this man and really really hope he stays.

      2. Somehow, I also got the same impression.

        I don’t understand Honda and Toyota though. Instead of spending big bucks in their cars, they could have spent a small sum supporting Japanese drivers. Kobayashi for one is certainly deserving! Yuji Ide, Takuma Sato weren’t.

        1. The same Takuma Sato who so far got the only Japanese GP podium outside of Japan, overtook reign world champion Fernando Alonso in a mediocre Super Aguri after bringing the team from the absolute slump of patheticness wasn’t deserving of the effort Honda put behind him in F1? Are we talking about the same guy here.

      3. Well according to Sky that drive has all but saved his seat for next season, so don’t fret!

      4. I really think that Kamui fits in quite well at Sauber, and I also hope that he will be staying. He is quick, and relatively steady and safe. He presumably doesn’t command an enormous salary, and probably even attracts money from Japanese sponsors. A good fit, I’d say, but there are some pretty interesting young drivers out there that might be potential Sauber material as well. I guess we, and he, will know before long.

        1. Perhaps this performance will help attract some Japanese sponsors into the sport again. I seem to remember Nintendo sponsored a car at the Indy 500 a few years ago, so there much be some interest.

          Personally, I don’t know who would replace him, especially now that Perez is gone. I think we’d all like to see Kovalainen get another shot in a quick car, but I suspect the Mexican sponsors will get Gutierrez the seat. A pity, because he hasn’t exactly shone in GP2 this year.

          1. Totally agree on Gutierrez. If I was going to pick a GP2 driver right now, I’d go with Chilton. He’s shown quickness and really came on the second half of the year with 3 straight polls and then one other front row start in the last 4 races and some wins as the year went on. To me, he showed the best overall quickness as a driver.

      5. @BasCB I never really got behind the idea of Sauber potentially replacing him anyway to be honest. As a team they’ve been more competitive than they were last year when they were really nowehere to be found. Perez leaving might actually help Kobayashi retain his seat unless they want to do what STR did and go with two unknowns.

      6. from his words I feel very much he is not counting on driving next year

        Perhaps it’s me being too optimistic, but I interpreted it differently: he must have felt that he needed to put in such a performance rather sooner than later; not as much for saving his seat, more for his own self-regard.

        This expectation made him tense and it showed in an uncharacteristic cautiousness on the track. Now he finally can relax; and perhaps get back to his more ambitious racing style.

        1. Yes, I thought it was being cautious too… Did you see how slow he came into his pit box for the first stop? It was if he wanted to make sure he didn’t mess it up. He probably lost time doing that. Also rather trying to go after Massa he seemed determined to keep 3rd place and only upped his pace when Button got close so he could fend him off.

          It’s the first time I ever remember nothing going wrong for him on a race weekend. It all fitted into place nicely. Maybe this is a big turning point in his career, giving them belief in himself.

    6. I’d be gutted if he were dropped by Sauber.
      After all Perez is considered a great prospect and both have scored the same amount of points in their 2 years rivalry… And a guy named Grosjean ruined his gem of a quali in Belgium that could have brought a podium too.
      I think that this podium may well mean much more to him than we think. After all, he was such a curiosity when in appeared in 2009: instantly hailed as THE future japanese WDC. He surely feels hugely relieved now, and i think he’ll tackle the next GPs with great great self-confidence. I am sure there is more to come from him this year…

      1. In 2009 I saw him as a one odd race coup who would fizzle and miss. So I’d say he has really done much better than what was exepected of him, what with being 17th in GP2 the previous year.

    7. I too hope that he will stay with Sauber for next year. He’s been great to watch since he arrived in F1 and he’s got a great sense of humor. I’m hoping that Heikki will get his chance to get away from the back of the grid and get the other seat at Sauber.

      1. @metallion – that’s actually a good point, Heikki could do well as an experienced team leader. Sadly, I am not to hopeful for Kamui’s chances; I think Gutierrez or some other top GP2 driver will take his seat.

    8. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
      8th October 2012, 14:16

      I wish McLaren had signed Kobayashi instead :-(

    9. I was so happy with the podium yesterday (though I would have preferred an Alonso or Button top step). I still really like Massa and still love Kamui and they both have had a rough year. Kamui should be in with the Perez’s, Di Resta’s and Hulkenberg’s when it comes to the driver market, but Perez’s podiums have made his conversion rate of gridslots to points look very poor. Hopefully this takes some weight off his back and he can now do this more often. The interviews that Felipe gave the BBC and Kamui in this article really interesting, a bit different from the usual PR fair and honest. Always great to hear so much honesty from drivers but also from a pair that have seen 2012 almost pass them by.

    10. Knowing how against his racing his parents were, I’d be very curious to know their reaction to this. This has got to feel like great vindication for pursuing this path.

    11. I am Happy Geoffrey after this weekend.

      1. I’m with you <a href="@magnificent-geoffrey“>Happy Geoffrey, I read this whole article and comments with a big grin on my face. So happy for the guy, no-one deserves a podium more than Kamui.

    12. I also hope Kobayashi gets to stick around at Sauber next year. Perez has gotten the attention from his podiums this year, but in reality they’ve been fairly evenly matched, in qualifying especially.

      He’s also a really nice guy, I always enjoy his interviews even though I have to concentrate hard to understand what he’s saying :P.

      1. Kamui has out-qualified Perez 9-6 with best starting positions 2nd & 3rd – By comparison the best starting position of Perez is 4th & 5th. All of Perez’ podiums came from poor qualifying weekends. He had fresher sets of tyres and aggressive strategy that worked each time.

        Same thing has happened with a few other drivers aswell Grosjean, Alonso and Massa to name a few. So I like the fact Kamui got his running a normal. safe strategy.

        1. I couldn’t agree more, and looks like Monisha Kaltenborn understands that too:

          “You have to be careful in judging him as a driver because, if you look at most of the podiums we had, he had the better qualifying [at those races]. Through that, he has certain restraints on the tyres, on the strategy, and with the other car you can simply take a risk: and the risk worked out and paid off. I think he has been unlucky this year and it was about time he started being lucky.”

    13. Hopefully he got to enjoy his breakfast this morning! I’m really happy Kamui finally got a podium. I like both Sauber drivers and it’s great to see Kobayashi finally get what he deserved. He better be on the grid next year!

    14. 5 races to go. So…
      Go! Kah-Muh-Ih !!!

    15. Interesting that there isn’t a single anti Kamui comment here. It appears that if it was up to us Fanatics, his seat for next year wouldn’t be in question at all!

      1. how can you not like him? :)…. i really wish to see him in a top team

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