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
Image © Sauber F1 Team