Kobayashi: I’m now a true F1 driver

9 Oct

Kamui Kobayashi now regards himself as a fully-fledged Formula One driver, having secured his maiden podium finish on home soil at Suzuka in front of an impassioned Japanese crowd.

Once again, Kobayashi pulled off a sensational qualifying performance and lined-up third – he was promoted one place following a five-place grid drop for McLaren’s Jenson Button – for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix on the tight and twisty Suzuka circuit.

However, in contrast to previous races, the 26-year old managed to stay out of trouble, avoiding the first-corner chaos to convert his qualifying result into third place, seeing off a challenge in the final seven laps from a charging Button.

Kobayashi said: “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.

“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.”

The result lifted a great deal of pressure from Kobayashi’s shoulders after facing a lot of speculation about his future with Sauber. And the Japanese racer is more determined than ever to help the Hinwii-based team achieve fifth place in the constructors’ championship.

“I instantly relaxed when all the pressure came off,” said Kobayashi. “Without doubt it was a very important race for me in my career. And I felt: yes, now we will be having more strong races and really go for fifth place in the constructors’ championship.”

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