Kobayashi fears for future
Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi said on Thursday he fears he may not have a seat in Formula One next season, just days after he stormed to a podium place at his home grand prix.
The Sauber driver was roared on to third place on Sunday by tens of thousands of fans – some in tears – at Suzuka. "Like a movie," was how he described it, speaking ahead of the Korean Grand Prix.
But he admitted that his future was up in the air for next season. His teammate Sergio Perez is on his way to McLaren to replace Lewis Hamilton, but his own fate remains uncertain with only five races left this year.
Asked if he thought his best result in 55 Formula One races would mean he is sure of his seat at Sauber, the 26-year-old said: "At the moment I have no sponsors to be here. It's a very strange feeling.
"I want to be in Formula One, this is my dream since I was young. Getting a sponsor is very important for the future."
Perez, 22, is one of the so-called "pay drivers" on the Formula One circuit. His backing by fellow Mexican Carlos Slim is worth millions of dollars to Sauber.
Kobayashi regretted that he needed to think about attracting sponsors when he'd rather be concentrating fully on racing, although experts say that Sauber would be loath to change both drivers for next season.
"This (getting a sponsor) for the future is very important, maybe. Driving and thinking about the car is the driver's job, but now we have to think about sponsors. It's not what a driver should have to do.
"I'm a little bit surprised, but I will try to stay in Formula One for the next few years. I'll try to show for the rest of the season what I can do."
Kobayashi said despite his acclaim at home after Suzuka, offers of sponsorship had not been forthcoming.
"At the moment I have been very busy, but I will need to look (for a sponsor). I really need to think about this. It's a pity."
Kobayashi said he was not aware of Japanese firm Honda's reported interest in returning to the sport.
"I'd be very happy if they came back but we'll have to see if I'm still here or not," he said.
"Next year is difficult for me. After next year I think it will still be difficult for me."
Asked if he could lose out on a place in the sport because of money, irrespective of his talent, he said: "This is racing, no?"