Tag Archives: Japanese Grand Prix

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.”

Kobayashi in good spirits ahead of home race at Suzuka

1 Oct

Kamui Kobayashi expects Sauber to return to form at his home grand prix on the fast and technical Suzuka circuit this weekend (Sun 7 Oct).

A podium finish on the ultra-high speed Monza circuit for Sergio Perez meant expectations were high as the Hinwii-based Sauber team arrived in Singapore. However, the C31 was relatively uncompetitive throughout the weekend, with Perez scraping a solitary point for tenth and Kobayashi finishing down in a lowly 13th place at the end of an arduous two-hour race.

Despite the Singapore disappointment, spirits are high at Sauber as it prepares for the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix. Kobayashi expects to be in the mix for a strong result in front of a passionate home crowd, especially as his team plans to introduce a host of new aero upgrades, including a revised front-wing.

“I’m very much looking forward to my home grand prix at Suzuka,” said Kobayashi. “I think our car should be very fast there and we also will get new parts on the C31.

“I am confident about getting a good result in front of my fellow countrymen. Last year I qualified seventh on the grid, but then had a problem at the start and only finished 13th.”

In 2011, spectators remained in the grandstands for hours after the race to celebrate Sebastian Vettel’s second consecutive world title and Kobayashi praised the Japanese fans’ commitment, saying: “The Japanese fans are great and the mood and atmosphere they create is an enormous support. And it is not only me who they cheer for!

“They are true Formula One fans and that is why I’m really proud of them. Nowhere else will you find the fans being at the circuit so early in the morning and staying for so long at night, no matter what the weather is like.”

Vettel keen for more success on ‘favourite’ Suzuka track

1 Oct

Sebastian Vettel was disappointed to secure his second world title with a third place in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix and is looking to make amends as Formula One heads back to Suzuka this weekend (Sun 7 Oct).

The young German took a crucial race win on the streets of Singapore less than a fortnight ago to close the gap to points leader Fernando Alonso in the Drivers’ standings and will hope to carry that momentum to Japan’s legendary Suzuka circuit, which he describes as his ‘favourite track’.

Red Bull Racing’s Vettel has previous race-winning form in the land of the rising sun; he was victorious in 2009 and 2010 and, despite missing out on the win last year, achieved a third place to secure his second consecutive world title.

“I love the Suzuka circuit,” said Vettel. “In short, it has the most amazing corners and brilliant fans, I really like coming here. The track itself is huge and almost every metre of it is special.

“In 2011 the country experienced unbelievable difficulties, so it was extremely important to try and give them some enjoyment and to show our support for their suffering.”

But, he added: “I wish I had won in 2011. It was my third Formula One race on my favourite track and it still bothers me a bit that I took my world title with a third place.”