Kamui Kobayashi loses Sauber seat for 2013

2013 F1 season

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Kamui Kobayashi, Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, Yas Marina, 2012The confirmation of Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber for 2013 leaves current driver Kamui Kobayashi without a seat for next year.

Gutierrez’s team mate will be Nico Hulkenberg, as was confirmed last month.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn paid tribute to Kobayashi: “Over the last three years Kamui has shown us he is not only a fierce competitor on the track, but also a wonderful person and fantastic team player.

“Every member of our team has the greatest respect for him, and his podium in Japan was a particularly emotional moment for all of us. This has not been an easy decision for us to take, but we have committed ourselves to a new beginning and our time with Kamui will come to an end after the final two races of the season.

“We wish Kamui all the best for the future. Our thanks also go to Sergio Perez, who has claimed three podiums for the team so far and now has the opportunity at McLaren-Mercedes to display his immense talent with one of the most successful teams in Formula One history. We would also like to wish Sergio all the best and every success for the future.”

Kobayashi joined Sauber in 2010 (when it was still BMW Sauber) after making his F1 debut for Toyota in the last two races of 2009.

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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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  • 97 comments on “Kamui Kobayashi loses Sauber seat for 2013”

    1. Shame. I really enjoyed his attitude and funny interviews. I hope he finds a cockpit soon!

      1. Sviatoslav Andrushko (@)
        23rd November 2012, 15:14

        Agree. On the other hand, he wasn’t very stable racer. But! we may say the same about his teammate Sergio.
        I wish he earns 5-th position for his team in this race. That would be pecfect for his chances to stay in F1 next year.

      2. davidnotcoulthard
        23rd November 2012, 16:04

        I really enjoyed his Toyota drives…and I still recall seeing him running 5th (either in the race or qualy)….in Brazil!

    2. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      23rd November 2012, 11:12

      All skill aside.

      Is it just me, or does Gutierrez look like a 17 year old?

      1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
        23rd November 2012, 15:13

        If he wore glasses, he’d look like your avatar :P

        1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
          24th November 2012, 0:13

          Haha he would indeed

    3. It is sad to see this happen. Is Pérez better than Kobayashi? Yes, that’s the quick conclusion we can draw from this season results. Is he so much better that Kobayashi needs to be kicked out of the grid while Pérez gets a drive with McLaren? No way in hell.

      1. @guilherme My sentiments exactly.

        1. I still say that Kamui is a victim of the mushy tyres, with tyres that can take it Kamui can chuck a car around with the best of them, hope he gets the chance.

      2. @guilherme

        Is he so much better that Kobayashi needs to be kicked out of the grid while Pérez gets a drive with McLaren? No way in hell.

        Who says Kobayashi is out of the sport entirely?

        1. I hope he will be picked up by Force India, but the chances are slim. Maybe he’ll become test driver somewhere, but not with Sauber. A shame to see such a spectacular driver leave.

        2. You’d be brave to say he isn’t.

      3. I agree to an extent. Don’t think Perez is better really, the Sauber dynamic is similar to Williams this season. Perez and Maldonado have grabbed the headlines, while their team-mates have been more consistent and are not far behind in the championship.

      4. @guilherme
        I don’t get it why everyone’s so upset about Kobayashi losing his Sauber seat. Sure, his debut drive in 2009 was promising and great entertainment and he’s also Japanese, but has he really proven enough to get his 4th full season in Formula1 instead of a rookie getting his shot?

        It’s true that Mexican money helped Gutierrez, but Sauber might’ve let Kamui go anyway. Or atleast they chose Hülkenberg over him.

        1. This is a very good point. Sauber knew they needed Telmex money to keep the team competitive. As soon as Perez was abducted to McLaren, it was evident that Gutierrez was the back up plan. So I concurr, they traded Hulkenberg for Kobayashi, not Gutierrez for the Japanese.

      5. It is sad to see this happen. Is Pérez better than Kobayashi? Yes, that’s the quick conclusion we can draw from this season results. Is he so much better that Kobayashi needs to be kicked out of the grid while Pérez gets a drive with McLaren? No way in hell.

        If Kobayashi scores 8 points more than Perez this weekend, they tie on points.

      6. @guilherme

        +1. You just something that will echo with many of Kamui’s fans.
        Of which there are many,

      7. I really hope to see him in a Force India. Sutil is a fine driver but he is less exciting for viewers than Kamui.

    4. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      23rd November 2012, 11:18

      Also, i think that it would be more… Ethical, for lack of a better word, if teams would announce their next years driver line ups a little earlier in the year, so that the drivers that do get dropped have some more time to figure out what they’re going to do next.

      Certainly not an easy business. Feel for those that lose their seats, but at the same time… thats just Formula 1.

      1. Most of the drivers who get dropped will have been in discussions with multiple teams throughout the season (unless nobody wants them enough to even enter into discussions).

    5. what a disgrace

      think i am about done with f1, i cannot believe with the amounts of money going around someone like Kobayashi needs to pay for his seat.

      i hope they fail miserably next year.

      1. Don’t be ridiculous, hate the system, not the team.

        1. Hate the player not the game?

          1. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. **

            1. But Sauber haven’t exactly been fair in this situation either.

              Their statement of a few days ago basically throws him under the bus, I don’t have it. Right now, but it was along the lines of “we don’t need money, and it will be decided by on track performances”

              I.e if we don’t sign him, he wasn’t good enough.

              Which team is going to pick up a driver without sponsorship, who was effectively dumped by his team?

      2. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
        23rd November 2012, 15:55

        Don’t hate the player or the game, when its all said and done we’re the ones to blame. It’s the fans that crave controversy, it gives us something to debate over a cup of tea. We all love it, this merry-go-round, while trying to second guess Pirelli’s choice of tyre compound. There’s nothing you can do, the system is what it is…even if it does take the ****!

    6. Gutted.

      1. Exactly, what now…?
        It sad to see this, he could now go to, Lotus instead of Grosjean (seems unlikely), Williams (again, unlikely) or Force India next to di Resta (Jules Bianchi?)

        1. I’ve got a strange feeling about Di Resta at Force India. I wouldn’t be surprised not to see him there next season.

          1. I’d hate to see Koba, Kova and Di Resta with out a seat next year but I’m pretty sure di Resta has a contract.

      2. Same here… :/

    7. This is such a shame. Kobayashi is undoubtedly the most talented driver in Formula 1.

      1. Then why hasn’t he shown said talent?

        1. You may want to re-watch Abu Dhabi 2009 and Suzuka 2010 and 2012. You’ll get three wonderful examples there. ;-)

      2. I am sad as well, but try to stay realistic

    8. This is such a shocking development. The sport’s gonna miss all those fierce battles and overtakes!!!

    9. Calling it now – Kobayashi will be with Toyota in the WEC.

      I suspect Kovalainen will be in WEC too, not sure with who though.

    10. It will be a real shame if this is the end of Kobayashi’s F1 career.

      As @Slr said in yesterday’s Comment of the Day it doesn’t seem right that of the two Sauber drivers, currently separated by eight points in the championship, one joins McLaren and the other may end up without a seat at all.

      If Kobayashi is on his way out of F1, I hope he considers a switch to IndyCar. I think his attitude and driving style would be a perfect fit.

      1. Agree. But I don’t think that the points scored by Perez and Kobayashi are proof that Kamui should be in F1. For example, Maldonado and Senna have roughly the same number of points, but I don’t think anyone will feel that their driving talents are even on the same plane.

        1. How so? I consider them pretty equal. One can be lightning fast at times, but is extremely unstable, the other is pretty stable, but apparently needs to press a bit harder.

          I can’t say that any of them is better than the other.

          1. I suppose it comes down to the idea that a fast driver can be taught control, but a controlled driver can’t be taught speed.

            1. – And that idea is bonkers. It makes sense for a car, not a driver.

              Control and consistency is the most important aspect of going faster.

      2. He should totally go to IndyCar, and as @ajokay pointed out on Twitter, putting the 2 of them on the same team and calling it Team BANZAI! would be a stroke of genius.

        1. That would be amazing! Sadly I doubt he will be able to find the budget to get a full time drive there either. Just yesterday I had a look at the confirmed cars/drivers for next year and a lot of it is “pending on finding enough money”, even if 4-8 million could well be enough for IndyCars instead of apparently bringing about 10 million for a seat in a team like Caterham, Marussia.

          1. @BasCB IndyCar budgets are quite a bit less than that aren’t they?

            1. That’s what I thought as well @keithcollantine, but it seems its about 2-3 million to get things together in an end of grid team, and about 4-7 million to get a somewhat competitive drive currently (one of the drives commented on that recently, I will have a look at where I found that one later).

            2. I guess its in here in this article on speed

              If one thing has become apparent during this off-season, it’s that if the IndyCar Series can find ways to reduce a competitive operating budget from a minimum of $5 million per entry to something in the $3 million range, its teams would be overflowing with funded drivers. 30-car grids would be a common sight.

            3. @bascb 30 car grids would be a beautiful sight! Although some tracks would need to seriously consider extending their pit lane…

      3. If Kobayashi is on his way out of F1, I hope he considers a switch to IndyCar. I think his attitude and driving style would be a perfect fit.

        I would watch IndyCar race by race next year if that happened. Right now, my interest in IndyCar is casual.

      4. Ill be glad if he gets a seat in some form of top end motorsport. I remember him saying in an interview in his first Sauber year that the seat saved him having to go back to Japan to work in his dad’s sushi restaurant.

    11. our time with Kamui will come to an end after the final two races of the season.

      But only one race remains in the season. Are these quotes from Austin?

      1. Just wanted to post this, I think they knew that KOB will be out of the team before Austin, but waited with the announcement, and forgot to rewrite the statement.

        1. Yup. Spotted that gaff too. I think all things considered, if you know the fate of a driver its only decent to announce it sooner than later. It must have such a demoralizing effect on them. For example look at Sutil. I am personally glad Hulkenberg replaced him (so it would shut the British media up when Di Resta didnt wipe the floor with him), but it was so awkward when sutil interviewed and knew he was being replaced but there was no announcement.

          1. it would shut the British media up when Di Resta didnt wipe the floor with him

            I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m British and this is my website and I certainly didn’t write anything like that.

            1. I think he was talking more about the mainstream media like BBC/Sky and the various tabloids that believe just because di Resta beat Vettel a few years ago, he’s suddenly deserving of a seat at *insert top team here*

              Don’t get me wrong, Paul is talented but he has been beaten by Sutil and Hulkenberg, who was out of the sport for one year.

          2. I think you are wrong on account of Kamui not being informed. Telling the media is someting quite a bit different from telling the drivers.

            Just watch back what Kamui says at the podium ceremony in Japan. To me it was pretty clear he knew before that moment about not being kept on for next year.

            Guttierez was being rumoured to replace Perez as soon as Perez got the McLaren seat. And even before that Sauber was clearly talking to many drivers about the second seat as well.

    12. “This was a difficult decision”.

      How so? The team needs money, they’re running a Mexican sponsor, and therefore they have a Mexican driver. It’s not difficult, complicated, or unexpected. If Sauber ran Toyota engines, Kamui would stay, and The Hulk would still be in force India. The comment seems heartfelt, but the fans really shouldn’t be fooled.

    13. Sad to see F1 throwing all that enthusiastic Japanese support in the bin – they were amazing scenes at Suzuka. There must be no money in it for Bernie, or he’d be helping another team make a deal with Kobayashi.

      There must be a curse on the front row at Spa – Fisichella stuck an unfancied car there (on pole!) and found himself out of F1 a few months later. A bit different, I know, as he had a nice job with Ferrari and AF Corse to look forward to.

    14. What a load of crap, far too many pay driver rookies on the grid next year who have not yet proven themselves, at the expense of good drivers who should not be pushed out yet.
      Monisha had made this decision a long time ago, the procrastinating has ******* Kobyashi’s ability to decisively take a seat elsewhere, same with Heikki.

    15. As has been said many times before, F1 has no room for sentiment. The team needed to keep the Mexican funding and this would have been the only way to ensure it. The Hulk has a lot of work to do next year – familiarising himself with the team, the car and the engine. Having said that, I still think Hulkenburg can really drive the team forward and perhaps get them a win next year. The car is fundamently quick, and as the rules arent changing drastically, maybe he could take Sauber to their second victory.

    16. I guess its a tough sport.

      For now, lets be happy about the superb podium in Japan (i am still convinced that he knew already that it would be the highlight of his career), and off course those delicious overtaking maneuvers he pulled off in places where “it’s impossible to pass”

    17. His only posiible options would be FI, Williams, Caterham, Marussia, HRT any of them would be a step back. FI, I dont know, I think it will be Algersuaris seat.
      Williams, if Bottas comes in to replace Senna I will be annoyed more.
      And any of the “new” teams would be a disaster for him, I think Heikki showed that those teams are the slow way out of F1.

    18. shame !!

      hope Koba gets a Williams seat at least !

    19. I’m trying to think of the best word to summarise my feelings on this. So far, “nonplussed” is the best I can come up with.

      I can see why Kobayashi is popular with fans. I can see why Kobayashi might be good for Formula 1. But what I can’t see is what Kobayashi has done to justify another season with Sauber.

      When he first entered the sport, Kamui Kobayashi was heralded as a star of the future, someone who had the potential and the drive to go places and do things that most young drivers could only dream of. And, after three seasons, I can honestly say that Kobasyahi has completely failed to meet those expectations. He scored a podium in Japan this year, and that’s great – but when the first wave of Kobayashi Fever came crashing down on Formula 1, an outsider would be forgiven for thinking that he had scored a podium on debut.

      I get why people are disappointed by Sauber’s decision, but if I were the one who had to make the decision on whether or not to keep Kobayashi for 2013, I honestly doubt that I’d do anything differently.

      1. I have to say he had several unlucky exits from a very good grid position that severely hampered his points tally.

        1. He has still seriously under-performed on a regular basis.

    20. Sad to see Kamui’s leaving. But it is not Sauber’s fault, it is just business. Sauber brought Kamui in with expectation of Japanese money, but hey, Jpn isn’t doing well economic wise, lots of corporates funding are gone, Panasonic has just lost all they earn in past 20 years, Sony has been black hole for investors for several seasons. Sauber has no choice to go where the money is. Keeping a good driver like Kamui or going bankrupt without sponsorship.
      Asking anyone of us in Sauber’s shoe, what will be the best decision?

    21. And how do you rate Perez this season compared to Kobayashi?

      1. Better than, if I’m totally honest.

        1. How better?
          It’s not like Perez totally smashed Kobayashi to bits.

          1. The final points tally isn’t the only measure of a driver’s ability. For instance, Perez scored three podiums in two years. Kobayashi has scored one podium in three years, and he only got it after Perez picked up his three podiums.

            If Kobayashi is better than Perez, why us Perez going to McLaren? Don’t say money – Perez doesn’t bring so much as a peso to McLaren.

            1. True points,

              Also some of Perez points came from very good team race strategy while some of Kamui race strategy was like ???

              You could say Perez has better speed in qualify where Kamui lacks his consistency there.

            2. Mclaren has future backup sponsor if need be (Vodafone future not secure?).
              Slim is now major player in F1.
              The 2 mexican drivers are privleged to have such heavy duty backing.
              Any driver would love to gave that.
              If Kamui had his own Japanese version of Slim Billionaire backing him than Force India or the like would have come to him for sure.

        2. Perez is definitely more talented and more skillful,
          he has the ability to squeeze out every drop out of the Sauber’s car, however, Kamui is a stable driver with more consistency. But you cannot win of being nice and humble, you need that rawness and pure wild genius to get to the top. And make the game more watchable.

          1. davidnotcoulthard
            23rd November 2012, 16:18

            But you cannot win of being nice and humble

            Does that bring us to Alain Prost?

            1. Yes, indeed ….the good Alain

    22. I’m extremely saddened by this. Vijay, please sign him up.

      1. The world of F1 can be harsh. But id rather have Bianchi in that second FI seat. It would be better to give a rookie an opportunity than to have the seat filled by a known quantity,who,to be honest,isnt really top-class.

    23. One of my favourite drivers too. Let’s hope he gets a good seat for next season!

    24. I’d like to see him at Williams replacing Senna who is a bit of a non event…

    25. Don’t want to support Sauber if this leads to Kaumi’s F1 exit. But then they got Hulkenberg and he is an amazing driver and person :(

    26. Really gutted by this news. I know there were rumours but after what Kaltenborn said about money not being a driving factor for Kobayashi’s seat it offered a glimmer of hope. Either I’m being naive there…or he’s lost his seat because they just don’t think he’s good enough. At least he managed to get on the podium at his home race which is a fitting tribute if this is the end of his career.

      I think he deserves a drive elsewhere based on his skill.

    27. Yesterday Kamui uploaded a video on his Youtube channel, some people translated it says more or less: “The point of this video is that Kamui started a fundraising campaign on his official website and opened a bank account in Japan. Kamui asks Japanese fans to help him financially to get a competitive seat in 2013”.
      Another person said the same “Kamui is asking for contributions at his web site to get a seat of next season”.

      Here it is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7FY2eGSL88&lc=i3FzZKeTeiF8rmb06HT73yJ64dvifPZ45CeEYkKrQIs&lch=email_reply&feature=em-comment_reply_received

      1. It’s pretty sad that talented drivers are having to resort to begging for money TBH…

        He should release an international fundraising campaign too though. I can only find the support page on the JP site (good news you get a wristband!)

        1. Oh, no no no….now Kamui is asking for funding publicly in youtube ??!!!
          Sad…really Sad….he is the best F1 driver out of Japan or Asia for that matter ever….

          1. Yes we should suggest on the Youtube comments to open an international account.

    28. It’s a shame to see someone like Kamui making a possible exit from the sport. He may not have been as frequently brilliant as Perez this season — though, I feel his podium was Sauber’s best — but he still possesses a large amount of talent. His issue is that, like Perez, he’s still a little rough around the edges. He seems to have more natural speed than Sergio, but just doesn’t seem as able to bring home the big points. I think this clouds people’s view of the actual differences between the two, which has resulted in one jumping in to what might be the best seat on the grid for next season, and the other looking likely to bid farewell to the sport after this race.

    29. At least he can go back to the sushi restaurant…

      It’s no surprise really, it’s been building up to this. Will Senna grab the Force India seat? Bottas seems a shoe-in at Williams

    30. It is a shame that KOB is losing his sit at Sauber, I really think he is a great driver. But I don’t think people are giving Gutierrez enough credit fo getting that seat. He is a pay driver, no doubt about it, but he also has a phenomenal racing curriculum I think (BMW, GP3 champion and GP2 3rd place). Even if he is pay driver, he is in F1 for a reason and he really has earned his sit at sauber by his own merit. He is 21 years old and as soon as he gets some rythm in F1 I’m sure that he is gonna show some real talent. Anyway, I really wish Koba gets a seat at Force India instead of Sutil. Hate to see him go

    31. hope he can join Force India

    32. When Kaltenborn has told Kamui that no pressure to bring in finance, she was bloody honest and right !….what she really said was…”Dear Kamui….don’t worry…we will come by the Sushi Restaurant next year when JPN GrandPrix is on…

    33. Gutted at this. Ironically, Gutierrez’s timing screen name would be ‘GUT’.

    34. I just want him to get a seat next year and become Saubers worst nightmare, passing them in races.. Out scoring them and denying them progress in the constructors. He’s improved every year he has been in F1. Given the right car I think he continue that trend. I honestly believe he has something special in him like some of the great world champions.. It’s just going to take the right team to bring it out in him.

    35. Sauber has been a starting point for a lot of great F1 talent and I have always hoped that Kobayashi would join the list of Sauber drivers to find success with the front-running teams. While I am excited to see that Frijns will get the opportunity to test at the F1 level, I am disappointed that Kobayashi’s career in F1 seems to be at an end.

      I think it’s a shame that we will get to see what Perez can do for a top team but that we will never see the same for Kobayashi.

    36. I started watchin formula 1 cox of these amazing jap drivers…but this guy kamui..was the best…can’t imagine him in red bull and he would have won the championship long time back…sauber used his inputs and then asked him to **** off as he didn’t have sponsors….

      Very sad for formula 1 too see such a watchable and talented driver off…if I had the money…I would have funded him…just love his overtakes….

    37. Lotus should consider to replace crashkid Grosjean by Kobayashi !!!

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