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Kobayashi signs with Sauber, but who will join him in 2011? // The Japanese driver does a deal for the new season

Published by Christine

Kamui's comfortable for 2011.
Credit: BMW Sauber

Sauber announced this morning that they will be keeping Kamui Kobayashi on board for 2011 - confirming half their line up for next year. This is excellent news for the young Japanese driver who has had a solid start to his rookie season, and impressed the guys making the decisions back at Hinwil.

Having graduated from the test-driver role, Kobayashi hasn't had it easy - suffering 6 retirements out of 13 starts. However, when he does make it to the end of the race, it's usually in the points, and that is what counts.

Kamui is very happy with his new contract.

We had a very difficult start to the season, but we've worked together to pull ourselves out of that situation. I feel very much at home in Peter Sauber's team and am very pleased we'll be working together again in 2011. However, for now I'm focusing one-hundred per cent on this year. There are still six grand prix weekends to go in 2010, and we'll be hoping to make up more ground.

- Kamui Kobayashi

Sauber have been pretty quiet so far this year, and that is probably a good thing for them. The team faced plenty of turmoil when BMW abruptly announced their departure, and Peter Sauber stepped into the gap. They couldn't have expected a resurrection like we saw with Brawn GP, so the best they could wish for was to stay out of trouble and get some good points finishes. If you don't count a few slightly embarrassing trips into the gravel traps, then they've done a pretty good job of that so far.

The problem is, most of the points have come from one side of the garage, with Pedro de la Rosa picking up just one 7th place finish in Hungary. His future is unknown at the moment:

The team’s second driver for the 2011 season will be announced at a later date.

- Sauber Press Release

There's no word on whether De la Rosa is even in contention for the seat, but it's not looking hopeful, is it? If you compare the statistics - purely the numbers, not the reasoning - the pair are relatively evenly matched, although Kobayashi seems to be able to make good in the race better than his counterpart.

Team-mate Comparison: Sauber
DriverQualifyingRace
Kobayashi68
De la Rosa75

Pedro's race seat at Sauber appeared to be born out of the desire for a one rookie/one veteran lineup, hoping that experience would help guide them towards a brighter future. As we have seen so far this year - vividly in some Schumacher-shaped cases - it doesn't really matter how many years racing you have under your belt, it's what you do this year that you are judged on.

Kobayashi has made the impression he was hoping to and secured himself 12 more months of employment. Has Pedro done the same? Or will he find himself moving out of the way for someone else? Who could take his place?