• Korean Grand Prix

Kobayashi in need of a sponsor to stay in F1

ESPN Staff
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Kamui Kobayashi: "Drivers should be thinking about the car and what to do with the car" © Sutton Images
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Kamui Kobayashi says he is in need of a sponsor if he is to remain in the sport in 2013 with his seat at Sauber looking under threat.

Kobayashi scored the first podium of his career at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend but is one of the few drivers at a midfield or backmarker team without any financial backing. Sauber has made no comment on its driver line-up for 2013, although Sergio Perez will leave the team for McLaren and test driver Esteban Gutierrez is among the contenders to replace him as he is backed by the team's major partner Telmex. Kobayashi said he would need a sponsor if he is to hold on to his position at the team or drive elsewhere.

"Of course a sponsor could help for next year, but at the moment I have no sponsors to be here," he said in Korea. "It's very strange to need to find a sponsor to drive for another team or [to drive] here. At this moment of course the money is very important but basically I really want to be one of the top drivers with a good team. I want to be in Formula One and that's what I was dreaming of when I was young.

"Drivers should be thinking about the car and what to do with the car as that's their job, but now it's complicated by a lot of sponsoring and what they can bring. That is the way a driver has to be. I will try to stay in Formula One next year and show for the rest of the season what I can do in Formula One."

He said sponsorship dried up in Japan when the major car manufacturers Honda and Toyota pulled out at the end of the last decade.

"If a Japanese manufacturer came back in to the sport that would be a great thing, but if a Japanese car manufacturer is not in Formula One it's difficult. Car manufacturers are some of the biggest companies, so when Toyota was in F1 Panasonic was supporting them but then they left with Toyota."

Asked about the rumours that Honda might return to the sport with the change in engine regulations in 2014, Kobayashi said: "I'm very happy if they come back [in 2014 or soon after] but I will see if I'm still here or not."

Asked how he would feel if he loses his F1 seat next year, Kobayashi said: "This is destiny, no? If it happens like that we have to say 'this is Formula One'."

Looking ahead to this weekend's Korean Grand Prix, Kobayashi said the Yeongam circuit would not suit his car as well as Suzuka but is optimistic Sauber can extract more performance from its latest upgrade package.

"It's not our favourite circuit with our car but if we manage it well then of course we have a chance for a podium," he added. "Since Suzuka our update is not working with everything properly fine so still we have to look at the data and the package to check what our performance is and what we have to change for this update. I think if we have everything working fine we have another shot at the podium so I'm looking forward to this week. If we can score as many points as we can it will be a good step forward for the constructors' championship."

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