Impressive F1 2009 debutant Kamui Kobayashi has been linked with the second seat at Renault next year alongside Robert Kubica, according to reports – and he could take former Toyota title sponsor Panasonic with him.
Having failed to shine in GP2, Kobayashi turned plenty of heads in the grand prix paddock when he made his late-season debut for Toyota in-place of the injured Timo Glock in Brazil last month, running up in sixth place and determinedly fending off F1 World Champion-elect Jenson Button for lap after lap after lap around Interlagos' Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
Better still, the 23-year-old then went on to finish sixth and claim his first points at the highest level in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix a fortnight later, ahead of infinitely more experienced team-mate Jarno Trulli. In an instant, his reputation – not to mention his future prospects – was transformed, and following Toyota's withdrawal from competition, he has already been mentioned in connection with F1 2010 newcomer Lotus.
However, French magazine Auto Hebdo
claims that with the backing of both electronics giant Panasonic and telecommunications firm KDDI – which was similarly involved with Toyota's F1 effort, and is reportedly eager to remain in the sport – Kobayashi has his eye on the second berth at Enstone. The man himself, though, is coy on the subject.
“For next year, I think my manager has been talking to other teams,” he confessed, speaking to GP Update
, “but to be honest, I want to take a break now. I will go back to Europe in December to speak about the upcoming season – so for now, I don't know what will happen next year.”