The Sauber team has announced it has extended its contract with rising star Kamui Kobayashi.
The Japanese driver, who turns 24 next week, joined the Swiss outfit for his first full season in Formula 1, after an impressive pair of outings with the Toyota squad in the final races of the 2009 season.
“We enjoy having our rookie as part of the team – both as a driver and a person,” said team boss Peter Sauber. “We never had any doubts about working with him again in 2011.”
What would no doubt have influenced the team’s decision to re-sign its driver was how he bounced back after a troubled start to this season with some impressive showings, most notably some storming drives at Valencia, Hungary and Belgium after starting well down the order.
“Kamui has definitely fulfilled our expectations in terms of his speed and fighting spirit. Plus, his work with the engineers and his technical understanding has also developed very well.
“The experience he has built up over his first full season in Formula One will certainly stand him in good stead for 2011. And our aim is to give him a fast and reliable car from the outset next season.”
Kobayashi was equally pleased to be staying on at Sauber, and added: “I feel very much at home in Peter Sauber’s team and am very pleased we’ll be working together again in 2011.
“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.”
The team has not yet announced the identity of Kobayashi’s team-mate for next season, leaving some to speculate that Pedro de la Rosa’s stint with the outfit could be a brief one. However, the team did add that it would confirm the identity of the second driver in due course.
Finland’s Turun Sanomat is reporting that the 39-year-old Spaniard could still be a contender for the second seat for the 2011 season, although this may hinge on the outcome of talks with a potential 2011 title sponsor from Spain.
[Original image via The Cahier Archive]