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EXCLUSIVE: Kamui Kobayashi Q&A Part 1

In the first part of an exclusive interview, Kamui Kobayashi talks to Crash.net about his return to F1 with Caterham, performing below expectations and changes under new ownership
Returning to F1 this year, how do you feel this season has gone so far both for the team and for yourself personally?

From my side I think I'm pretty happy. I think I've performed quite well after a one year break. I don't feel any disadvantage due to driving GT, so I'm fairly happy with my performance. As you say, I think performance-wise with the car it's not what I expected so I think we're struggling a lot performance wise. At the beginning of the season our expectations were higher, so that's a shame. But let's see, I think we have some updates coming in Spa.

You say your expectations were higher, where were you hoping to be?

Originally we wanted to score a few more points. At least a point. When you're qualifying last it's not easy. I can only beat maybe Chilton; Bianchi looks a bit faster…

How do you then motivate yourself when there's only really one car to beat. Are you just racing against yourself to push yourself further?

Yeah I definitely push myself really hard and also the team as well because we need the motivation and the team is not in an easy situation. So I think we need to keep up our maximum performance always. We never know what's going to happen in the future but at least the new owners promised updates which is very positive. It means we can look for the performance, we can look in to the data.

The last couple of months we have struggled not having updates so it was a very difficult time. But now we have good signs to get some new parts.

Do you feel progress has been made with the car even without updates?

Yeah I have to say I think the car is always improving. But the steps are not really big enough. Other teams are doing more steps and bringing updates. We don't have updates so we are improving the car ourselves but it's not big enough to fight with the competition.

Does it hurt seeing Marussia scoring points and fighting to hold off Sauber?

It's very surprising for me – at how Sauber is struggling as well. It's a little bit of a shame for me to see this because Sauber used to be pretty good. Now they're struggling, but this is racing and the biggest problem is money.

You mentioned the new owners here; do you know much about them and have you got to know them a bit better?

I'm very happy. Christijan, he knows very well what the drivers feel and he's working very hard to get updates and get changes within the team. Straight away we have different team members at the track. We need to hope that this can work, this is just the beginning so it's very difficult to see what will happen but definitely I have no problems, I think straight away we are performing.

Have they said much what they expect from you?

No, I think they know what the problems are. The biggest problem is the performance of the car so basically I think there are a lot of limitations to get better performance, but from my point of view I'm not thinking too much about the performance side; I'm just doing 100% job and I'm pretty happy about that.

You mentioned new people at the track; have you noticed a different way of working?

Some. There are no big differences because the trackside engineers are still the same positions so there's no big difference, but on the company side there has been a lot of change. We lost a few guys' jobs so it's not an easy situation but I think they can fix it.

Obviously you're the more experienced driver who will be asked to lead that recovery, so what do you think you've learned in your year away that can help you now?

I think the biggest thing is that experience is very important. When I came here we had financial problems but I think organisation is very important. Construction at an experienced team for example is completely different. Even to make one carbon part is completely different, and I think that's due to the budget, producing stuff and the time it takes.

If we want to order some parts, some teams can't get it in one week and other teams can get it in one week. So there's a lot of different stuff but in the end I think my experience is always important. 'OK we want to have this update' or 'we need to gain here' and the influence on lap time and how many tenths of a second it can gain.

We need to find something and we need to be able to give the engineers this information and I think this is what I can do with my experience. Then the performance comes in a different way.

Part two will be published on Sunday

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Kamui Kobayashi (JPN), Caterham F1 Team  17.07.2014. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Hockenheim, Germany, Preparation Day.
Alfonso Celis Jr, Force India, F1 [Credit: Force India]
15.11.2015 - Race, A Ferrari fan
15.11.2015 - Race, Max Verstappen (NED) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10
15.11.2015 - Race, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 waves to the fans
15.11.2015 - Race, Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34 leads Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-30.
15.11.2015 - Race, Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull Racing RB11 leads Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
15.11.2015 - Race, Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34
15.11.2015 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
15.11.2015 - Race, Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull Racing RB11 leads Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
15.11.2015 - Race, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E23
15.11.2015 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E23
15.11.2015 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-30
15.11.2015 - Race, William Stevens (GBR) Manor Marussia F1 Team and Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
15.11.2015 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM08 and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB11
15.11.2015 - Race, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams F1 Team FW37
15.11.2015 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-30
15.11.2015 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T

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