Toyota's Kobayashi stakes his claim with first points 01 Nov 2009
After being drafted in to replace an injured Timo Glock at the final two races of the season, relatively little was expected from Toyota third driver Kamui Kobayashi. But it seems Kobyashi had other ideas, and this weekend in Abu Dhabi he has soundly stamped his mark on Formula One racing, thereby making a very persuasive play for a permanent seat in 2010.
While at Interlagos two weeks ago he finished just outside the top eight, at the Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday the 23 year-old went one better, clinching his very first world championship points after a strong drive from 12th on the grid to sixth place, just ahead of veteran team mate Jarno Trulli.
"It was a really good race for me, he said. At the start I overtook Raikkonen and that was important in the end because it would have been difficult to finish in the top six if I had been behind him during the first stint. When I got past I was confident I had the race pace to fight for the points and my target was to be consistently fast.
The team did a great job with the strategy and the pit stop which played a big part in helping me finish in the points. I certainly wasn't expecting to be racing in Formula One this season and I want to say thank you to Toyota for this opportunity. My target was to finish in the points today but I am a bit surprised to be in the top six. This is a fantastic result and I am extremely happy."
Although beaten by his younger and less experienced team mate, Trulli was quick to congratulate Kobayashi for his solid second Grand Prix. The Italian finished seventh, six seconds down on his Japanese team mate, and ends the year eighth in the drivers standings.
"It was not an easy race for me, Trulli said. I was pushing as hard as possible and putting in some good laps to fight for the top six. In the end I was seventh, which is not bad, and for the team the result is pretty good. Obviously Kamui drove really well and I am very pleased for him; he deserved this result."
Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina was equally complimentary about both his drivers, adding: It was a great result for us to have both drivers in the points in the last race of 2009. Kamui did a fantastic job and we are very proud of him but Jarno also fought hard to get a strong result. This year the team, including everyone back in the factory in Cologne, has done a brilliant job. It's been a tough season but we have ended it in a positive way, so thanks to everyone in the team, as well as our sponsors and fans.
The Japanese team have finished the 2009 season fifth in the constructors championship with 59.5 points, 10.5 adrift of fourth-placed Ferrari.