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Kobayashi signs for BMW Sauber for 2010 17 Dec 2009

Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, 16 October 2009 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Toyota TF109 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, 16 October 2009

Their place on the 2010 grid is yet to be officially confirmed, but that hasn’t stopped BMW Sauber signing one of the hottest talents to emerge from the 2009 season. Kamui Kobayashi, who sprang to prominence after replacing injured Toyota driver Timo Glock in the final two rounds, is set to race for the Swiss-based team next year.

“Ever since the start of my career I have dreamed of racing in Formula One,” said Kobayashi. “Now this dream has come true. I am very happy that my two races in 2009 have earned me a cockpit place. I will do my very best for Peter Sauber’s team and I am proud to be able to carry on flying the Japanese flag in Formula One.”

Kobayashi made his F1 debut at the Brazilian Grand Prix after Glock injured his leg and back in the preceding Japanese round. The Japanese acquitted himself well at Interlagos, finishing just outside the top eight, but at the season finale in Abu Dhabi he went one better, clinching his very first world championship points after a strong drive to sixth place.

“I’m very much looking forward to working together with Kamui,” said team owner Peter Sauber. “In the final two Grands Prix of last season he was granted an unexpected chance to show his skills, and he made impressive use of it. Particularly in the Abu Dhabi race he demonstrated not only that he can drive fast and aggressively, but also his ability to successfully implement a strategy. I am convinced he has a great deal of potential and will be able to make the most of it in our team.”

The 23 year-old started karting when he was just nine. After signing to Toyota’s young drivers’ programme, he competed in two seasons of Formula Renault from 2004, before switching to the Formula Three Euro Series. He won one race and stayed for 2007, ending the season fourth in the standings.

Toyota signed him as their Formula One reserve driver for 2008 onwards and, at the same time, Kobayashi competed in the GP2 Series in Asia and Europe. He claimed an early maiden win in the main GP2 Series, and over the winter of 2008-9 claimed the Asia title in convincing fashion.

After announcing they were to withdraw from the sport at the end of 2009, BMW sold their team back to original founder Sauber. Throughout the sale the team were without a confirmed entry to the 2010 season, but the FIA has said they will be granted a grid slot - taking the place of the departing Toyota team - subject to them signing the Concorde Agreement that governs Formula One racing.