Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Next race: Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg
F1 encyclopedia

Kamui Kobayashi

Formula 1 driver

Kamui Kobayashi
Credit: Sauber
Vital statistics for Kamui Kobayashi
NationalityJPN
BirthplaceAmagasaki, Hyogo, Japan
Born13 September 1986
Age30
F1 debutBrazilian Grand Prix, 2009
Driver number10
Recent fastest laps
2012Chinese Grand Prix

Kobayashi made his F1 debut in 2009, with the Toyota team, when he deputised for Timo Glock. The team’s departure from the sport saw him move to Sauber, and then he spent a year away from F1 in 2013. Back with unfinished business for 2014, Kobayashi used fan-raised funding to support his drive with Caterham, which fell through when the team went into administration before the end of the year.

F1 biography

Kamui Kobayashi was spotted as a young karter and signed to the Toyota Driver Academy. That helped him get the step up to Formula Renault, where he raced his way around Europe. He also drove in the Formula 3 Euro Series and continued to impress, whilst at the same time being signed to Toyota’s F1 team as a test driver to start getting experience of the top level category.

Kobayashi drove the GP2 and GP2 Asia series’ winning the GP2 series title in 2009. His attachment to Toyota would pay off as Kobayashi was granted the opportunity to substitute Timo Glock in 2009, when the German fell ill and was unable to participate in practice. Glock crashed in the race, and was not fit for the final two rounds of the year, so Kobayashi stepped in. His first two races were chaotic, and Toyota announced at the end of the year they would be withdrawing from Formula One, forcing Kobayashi to scout around for another seat.

Sauber came to his rescue, offering the Japanese driver a race sear for three seasons. He gained a reputation for an aggressive and somewhat unusual driving style, but he started getting a handful of results for the midfield team. In 2012, Kobayashi secured third place at his home race in Japan, taking to the podium for the first time. Despite the success, Sauber did not sign him for the 2013 season.

Kobayashi moved to the FIA World Endurance Championship, signing with Ferrari’s AF Corse team. He drove in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the full series of races, but his attention was always on the possibility of an F1 return. In early 2014, it was confirmed he would be driving for Caterham F1, having raised some funding from his passionate fans to help pay his way, and agreeing not to take a salary.

It was a topsy turvy season for the driver, including a couple of missed races due to driver changes and the team going into administration. He returned for the final round of the year, but failed to secure himself a drive for 2015. Instead, he participated in the Japanese Super Formula series. In 2016, he also included endurance racing on his programme, participating in the world endurance championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Learn more about Kamui Kobayashi with the Pocket F1 Handbook.