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Exclusive Kobayashi Q&A: With luck, we can fight for podiums 08 Mar 2010

Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 10 February 2010. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber C29. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday 28 February 2010. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber C29. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 10 February 2010. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber C29. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 2 February 2010. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber C29 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 27 February 2010.

BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi may look like he’s just stepped out of Tokyo’s trend-setting Shibuya district, but he’s also a determined racer, keen to make an excellent impression as he embarks on his first complete season. After muscling his way onto everyone’s radar with two sparkling performances last year as a stand-in for an injured Timo Glock at Toyota, watching Kobayashi in Bahrain will be a treat indeed…

Q: Kamui, you are about to embark on your first full Formula One season as a fully-fledged race driver. The outfit you are wearing seems to suggest you’re going to become a real trendsetter in the paddock…
I started karting when I was nine years-old and ever since then I have wanted to be in Formula One. It was always my dream. As for my outfit, I never like to follow anybody. I am always looking to create my own style. If you want to reach the top in anything, you have to be true to yourself.

Q: Testing is over. How have your pre-season preparations progressed?
Well, we have been pretty good. The two Jerez weeks were not ideal, but it was the same for everybody. The Barcelona test compensated a bit and we were able to proceed with our programme. We are not surprised about the pace that the car has and how good it is compared to the others. We’ll see in Bahrain. What makes me confident is that we haven’t struggled with anything in particular.

Q: How have your preparations this year differed to your preparations for GP2?
Well, the biggest difference is the people. So many more people work for an F1 team compared to a GP2 team. On the car side it’s the ability to make many changes to the set-up. A GP2 car has a much simpler design. Formula One is so professional and that means I also have to raise the bar in terms of my professionalism. I can say that the four tests have given me a lot of experience. Before you could be good one day, and not so good the next, and it wouldn’t have such a dramatic impact. In F1 you have to be good all the time - it’s the pinnacle of motorsport!

Q: Has it been more physically demanding?
No, I haven’t had any problems with my physical fitness. Last year when I did those two races for Toyota, I had not been in an F1 car for eight months - and I still didn’t have a problem. I may have felt the race distance a bit in Brazil, but in Abu Dhabi everything worked well. I feel very good at the moment. Of course you have to keep up a high standard of physical fitness and that is what I am doing.

Q: What has surprised you the most during testing?
Maybe the level of intensity is greater - and the ambition to do well.

Q: Have you been satisfied with your performances?
Yes, very satisfied. I hope that the team say the same about me as well!

Q: Your team mate Pedro de la Rosa is very experienced. How are you getting on?
Pedro is a good team mate. It’s funny because last year we went out for dinner together a few times, when there were no plans that we would team up together. Now that we are team mates it works very well. We both communicate very well together and he is also a driver that can interact with the team very well. I am really happy to have him as my team mate. He has a lot of experience, but it is not that alone - he is a very nice guy. We sit down and talk with the team about our experiences in the car. With so little testing you have to share all the information if you want to bring the team forward.

Q: Many drivers believe the BMW Sauber is looking strong…
Probably! Hopefully! We need to score points so P8 or P9 will not do. We have to try to occupy the positions just after the podium, and if we are lucky sometimes even the podium itself. We have to fight with everybody - especially the top four teams. If you don’t fight with them, how will you ever catch them?

Q: What are your thoughts ahead of the Bahrain race?
I have been waiting for this opportunity for two years. This is now my chance, and I’m going to take it!

Q: Do you feel that this is the start of a long Formula One career?
I think so.