Exclusive Q&A with BMW Saubers Kamui Kobayashi 26 Aug 2010
Kamui Kobayashi surprised everybody with his sterling work for Toyota at the end of last season, and his excellent performances in the Brazil and Abu Dhabi rounds eventually secured him a seat with BMW Sauber for this season. Although Kobayashis raw pace continued to impress onlookers, poor luck and the hit and miss reliability of his Ferrari-engined C29 saw him endure a disappointing start to his first full Formula One season. However with the car finally finding its form, the young Japanese driver is craving more success
Q: Kamui, when Bridgestone leave Formula One racing at the end of the season Japanese involvement in the sport could have been narrowed down to just yourself. How would it feel to be the last man standing?
Kamui Kobayashi: Well, what can I say? Its a shame. But the good news for me is that I am here. And I want to take something back to Japan from Formula One to say thanks for all the support in the past. Without that support I would not be here.
Q: There have been numerous great drivers from Japan, but nobody has won a Grand Prix. Does that mean additional pressure for you?
KK: Theres no pressure at all. I do my job and lets see where it takes me. If you dont believe that you could be on the top spot of the podium one day then you are the wrong guy for Formula One.
Q: After successfully filling in for Timo Glock at Toyota in 2009, you had a tough start to the 2010 season with BMW Sauber
KK: Well, I was really disappointed when after two good races Toyota pulled out of Formula One. But lets be fair. This here is another chance and if I get good results here that will mean a lot for the Japanese Formula One fans. In the past all Japanese drivers have had very strong support from Japanese companies and now I am the first Formula One driver who doesnt have that. What I need now is to think positively and not negatively. I am very proud of myself and I really have to thank Toyota for giving me the opportunity to race last season because it was my ticket to this cockpit. And with the results Ive achieved in Brazil and Abu Dhabi my market value was really boosted.
Q: You have only finished six of the last 12 races and at the first four Grands Prix you didnt see the chequered flag at all. How did you cope?
KK: It was very hard for me but it was not as hard for me as it was for the team. I was a rookie coming into Formula One but BMW Sauber had such a long history of success that it was a bit scary to see what was going on. Once we started to score points in Turkey a lot changed. At the next race in Canada I messed it up - and I apologized to the team for it. But from then on, I started to score points quite consistently and you could almost feel the team had started to grow together. And that is what will hopefully bring us more good results at the last seven races.
Q: Are you satisfied with your performance so far? Where do you think you have to improve?
KK: If the car is good, its easy to get good results. But if the car is very difficult to drive and there is frustration creeping in, it is very difficult to get good results. But in such a difficult situation a driver can make the difference. He can bring back that one point that normally would have been lost. That is where I have to believe in myself. To be able to be such a driver who - against all the odds - will bring home much-needed points. And I think I did it - and also Pedro (de la Rosa) did it. I am very happy with the last few races.
Q: You are one of the few drivers who competed in the GP2 Asia Series as well as the main series, so you must know most of the seasons tracks by now. Is that helpful?
KK: No, not really. To get into a new track is never a huge issue for a driver. And in fact I havent had a lot of mileage in GP2 - unfortunately!
Q: How satisfying is it to outperform your much more experienced team mate?
KK: We have to share all our data up until qualifying. The real differences actually start with the race. So we both have to face different situations and have to adapt to those situations. Then it really shows. Pedro has sometimes been pretty unlucky but in Budapest he bounced back and we had a fantastic team result. Now that we have had the sweet smell of success we definitely want more! And we will be working very hard to get it.
Q: The Valencia race marked a turning point in the teams performance level
KK: Yes, Valencia was the much-needed turning point - hopefully! We have changed quite a lot on the car from the beginning of the season. And of course my experience grows and that is very important for me personally.
Q: What would be a good result for the season for you?
KK: I am not waiting for anything like a podium - Im definitely not waiting for that. I am realistic. I want to score consistently good points. That would be good for me and the team!
Q: Spa is a distinctively different track from the ones on which BMW Sauber have recently shined
KK: At the moment I would say that this track should suit our car very well. But taking the conditions under consideration - there is rain in the forecast for the whole weekend - I cannot say. For sure it will be a hard race and, from where we normally qualify, we will have to be very careful at the start not to throw away the race at the first corner.