Kamui Kobayashi (born 13th September 1986 in Amagasaki, Hyogo, Japan) is a Japanese Formula One driver who drove for Caterham. He covered for the injured Timo Glock at Toyota in the last two races of the 2009 season, and he made quite an impression. He was signed up by BMW Sauber in 2010, and has continued to drive for the team until the end of 2012.
In the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix, he got the first and only podium in his Formula One career.
In 2013, he was a test driver for the Scuderia Ferrari team. When he demonstrated a Ferrari in Russia, he crashed into a barrier which later caught fire from his car (seen from spectator view). He was OK.
He was then once seen again in the Ferrari pit garage at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.
Formula One Career
Before Formula One
Kobayashi began his racing career in the SL Takarazuka Tournament Cadet Class for karting at the age of nine. His karting career lasted another seven years, during which he earned two titles. In 2004, Kobayashi signed for Toyota's Driver Academy and began racing in Formula Renault. In 2005, he won both the Formula Renault Eurocup and Italian championship titles, with six race wins in each series.
In 2006, Kobayashi entered into the Formula Three Euro Series. In this series he raced against some familiar Formula One racers such as, Paul di Resta, Giedo van der Garde and four time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. He managed to earn three podiums in his first season and win the rookie's championship title. He continued his Formula Three career the following year, improving enough to get 4th position in the championship. During this year, he was also hired as a test driver for Toyota's Formula One team, a position he would hold for a total of two years.
While serving as a test driver for Toyota, he also entered the GP2 series. He won the GP2 Asia Series championship in the 2008-2009 season.
Kobayashi began his Formula One career in 2009 when he was called to Toyota to fill in for Timo Glock who was ill and unable to participate in the first two free practice sessions of the Japanese Grand Prix. Glock returned to enter the free practice and qualifying. Despite the team's request to run Kobayashi in the race, the FIA did not allow Toyota to replace Kobayashi with Glock for the event. During qualifying for the event, Glock was involved in an accident and received a minor cut on his leg. However, he was able to compete in the race.
Later, Glock was hospitalized because of a complication from his leg injury received from Japan qualifying and Kobayashi was asked to again fill in for him in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Unlike the last time he filled in, Kobayashi would race the event too. He qualified in for 11th on the grid after a qualifying session that would be red-flagged twice because of poor weather conditions. During the race, Kobayashi managed to keep Jenson Button behind him for several laps. Kobayashi finished in 9th position after Heikki Kovalainen was penalized for an unsafe release during his first pitstop.
"But that race today, to me, was worthy of becoming world champion. Kobayashi is absolutely crazy, very aggressive. It was a great race, really enjoyable. That was the perfect way to do it." - Jenson Button
With Glock still unable to race, Kobayashi was able to compete in the following race at Abu Dhabi. Here he was able to finish in P6 and earn the first points of his career. Toyota gave Kobayashi a full ride for the next season. However, Toyota made the last minute decision to pull out of Formula One and not compete in the next season, leaving Kobayashi without a ride.
Kobayashi's future in Formula One was unknown after team Toyota pulled out of the sport at the end of the 2009 season. At the end December, it was announced that Sauber would sign him for the 2010 season. He would race alongside his new teammate, Pedro de la Rosa who was returning to Formula One after his three season absence.
The first four races for the season went poorly for Kobayashi. In Bahrain, he suffered an engine failure that forced him to retire. In Australia, he suffered a front wing failure that shot his car into the inside wall. The car then cut across the corner, also taking out Nico Hülkenberg and Sébastien Buemi. At the following race in Malaysia, Kobayashi suffered his second engine failure of the season early in the race. In China, Kobayashi was collected after the Vitantonio Liuzzi spun his car across the track, ramping Buemi's car. Kobayashi was on the outside of the turn and was unable to avoid the accident.
Kobayashi managed to finish his first race for the season in Spain, although he was two positions below a points scoring position. It wasn't until the seventh round in Turkey that Kobayashi scored his first point, after beating his teammate by only .294 seconds. This was also the first point for the team since their return to Formula One.
The following race in Canada, Kobayashi paid a visit to the Wall of Champions on the first lap and retired from the race a lap later with damage. A stunning overtake in Valencia gave him another six points after he overtook both Fernando Alonso and Buemi in the closing laps. He gained another 14 points in Britain, Hungary and Belgium.
After the Italian Grand Prix, Kobayashi's teammate was replaced with Nick Heidfeld who was making a return to Formula One. In three of the final five races of the season, Kobayashi managed to score points. This gave him a total of 32 points to end the season, placing him in 12th for the World Championship.
Kobayashi was so impressive in the season, he was mentioned by retired Formula One broadcaster, Murray Walker in his 2010 season review for BBC:
"...just as impressive and daring for Sauber as he was in his two Toyota races last year...And so exciting to watch. In a well backed Sauber next year, he should be even better." - Murray Walker
With Sauber for a second year, Kobayashi was paired with rookie Sergio Pérez for the 2011 season. Early in the season, the team was already disqualified because their rear wing design violated a regulation. For the following six races, he managed to score points and set a career high in Monaco when he finished in 5th position.
He performed great in Canada when he came from 13th on the grid to 2nd position in wet conditions. When the race was red flagged because of the weather, he changed to the extreme wet tyres. When the race resumed, the track began to dry out and this force him to change to the intermediate and then the slick tyres to remain on the pace. This lower him to sixth position, but on the final straight of the race, Felipe Massa overtook him. Kobayashi finished seventh position, but was only 0.045 seconds behind Massa.
Kobayashi finished the all of the remaining races, with the exception of Britain and Italy with mechanical failures and India when he was involved in an opening lap accident. He finished the season in 12th position with 30 points, four positions above his teammate. Midway through the season, the team confirmed that they had signed both drivers for the 2012 season.
Continuing with Sauber for the 2012 season, Kobayashi finished in 6th position in Australia. The season was off to a good start. Despite a retirement in Malaysia because of a mechanical failure, he managed to qualify for 3rd position in the Chinese Grand Prix. Although he fell back to tenth position in the race, he did manage to set the first fastest lap of his career.
An impressive double overtake in the closing laps of the Spanish Grand Prix allowed Kobayashi to finish in 5th position. Another great performance in Germany placed him into 5th position, but a post-race penalty for Vettel upgraded his result to fourth position. This was a career high for him.
Despite being involved in the first corner accident for the Belgian Grand Prix, Kobayashi continued the race to earn a 13th position. Although he earned no points for his finish, he was the only one of the five cars involved in the accident to continue the race.
He beat a career milestone in his home Grand Prix, earning his first career podium. This was also his highest finish in his Formula One career. He managed to hold off Button for the entire race to keep this third position.
"This I cannot put into words. 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." - Kamui Kobayashi
For his third consecutive season, Kobayashi gained a 12th position in the World Championship with 60 points. This put him two positions (six points) behind his teammate. It was announced that both drivers on the Sauber team would be replaced for the next season with Esteban Gutiérrez and Nico Hülkenberg. Kobayashi decided to focus on finding a drive for the 2014 season and sit out the 2013 season.
Formula One Statistical Overview
F1 Career Record
|2007||Panasonic Toyota Racing||Toyota||Test Driver|
|2008||Panasonic Toyota Racing||Toyota||Test Driver|
|2009||Panasonic Toyota Racing||Toyota||Test Driver||Report|
|2010||BMW Sauber F1 Team||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||32||12th||Report|
|2011||Sauber F1 Team||Sauber-Ferrari||30||12th||Report|
|2012||Sauber F1 Team||Sauber-Ferrari||60||12th||Report|
|2013||Scuderia Ferrari||Ferrari||Test Driver|
|2014||Caterham F1 Team||Caterham-Renault||0||21st||Report|
Correct as of the 2012 Korean Grand Prix
|Front Row Starts||1|
|Distance Raced||13617.380 km (8461 mi)|
|Distance Led||0 km (0 mi)|
|Complete Formula One results|
|2013: Did not compete.|
|3rd||DNQ||Did not qualify|
|5th||Points finish||DNPQ||Did not pre-qualify|
|14th||Non-points finish||TD||Test driver|
|NC||Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)||DNS||Did not start|
|Italics||Scored point(s) for Fastest Lap||[+] More Symbols|
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