Kamui Kobayashi is at major risk of being off next year's grid, unless he can secure serious corporate sponsorship from his homeland

Kamui Kobayashi has found a perhaps unusual ally in the form of 1980 Formula 1 World Champion Alan Jones, who has today urged that the Japanese driver remain on the grid in 2013, following his being dropped from Sauber’s line-up.

In his third season with the Swiss outfit, Kobayashi once again finished twelfth overall in the Drivers’ Championship standings. In 2012, however, he scored twice as many points as in 2011, finally breaking through to score his first Grand Prix podium finish.

Yet it was team-mate Sergio Pérez who won a multi-year contract with McLaren, while Kobayashi found himself on the driver market after Sauber opted for a wholesale in its driver line-up, picking Nico Hülkenberg from Force India and promoting Esteban Gutiérrez from its test driver ranks.

Kobayashi claimed his maiden podium finish on home soilKobayashi’s fans were furious with this snub, and in the space of a few weeks they have raised over €1 million in donations to try and help fund a seat on next year’s grid.

And with money likely to be a deciding factor in finalising the last few remaining seats on next year’s grid, that may not be enough to guarantee the popular driver a place in the pit lane.

That’s a situation that is completely unacceptable to Jones, who would be appalled at the prospect of Kobayashi being sidelined.

“I have always admired and been supportive of race drivers that show courage, controlled aggression and strong determination, which are the qualities that I see in Kobayashi-san,” Jones said today.

“Perhaps now is the right time for corporations in Japan to get behind their Japanese Formula One driver to secure his future in the sport,” he added.

“Kamui is the best so far from Japan to compete in Formula One. I would like to see him on the podium again as I am sure Peter Sauber was very happy with his results.”

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.