Kamui Kobayashi has done enough to secure his place in Formula 1 with Sauber for 2011, the team announced this morning.
The 23 year old Japanese driver has proved a firm favourite with fans all over the world for his fighting spirit and although we didn’t see much of it in the early part of this season, when the Sauber car was disappointingly slow and unreliable, in recent races he has been able to show a little of his flare.
A highlight was his performance in Valencia, where he tried a different strategy from the rest and started the race on hard tyres from 18th on the grid. Staying out when the safety car was deployed for Mark Webber’s accident he ran in third place for most of the race and after a late tyre stop was able to fight and pass Fernando Alonso for 7th place. His drive to 6th at Silverstone was also very strong.
If he has had a problem it has been in qualifying where he has only managed to beat his team mate Pedro de la Rosa on five occasions in 13 races and has found himself struggling to make Q2 at times. It will be in this area in particular that he will need to improve next season.
“We enjoy having our rookie as part of the team – both as a driver and a person,” said Peter Sauber. “We never had any doubts about working with him again in 2011.”
Kobayashi burst into F1 at the end of last season as a stand-in for Timo Glock at Toyota. His battling performances in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, where he took on some of the big names from the sport, including a furious dice with Jenson Button, won him admirers among the fans and caught the eye of Peter Sauber.
There is no word on De la Rosa’s prospects of staying with the team.