Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi gave the home fans something to cheer about today by taking a very impressive seventh place at Suzuka.
Kobayashi, who was only fourteenth in qualifying for the F1 2010 Japanese Grand Prix, put in a great performance in the race and he eventually claimed six championship points.
Having got up to sixth, he dropped back to 12th on lap 39 when he stopped for tyres. However he then put in a charge and went round the outside of Jaime Alguersuari at the hairpin to claim P11. Despite banging wheels - after Alguersuari refused to yield - he pushed on and almost immediately found himself up to tenth when the engine on Adrian Sutil's Force India let go.
The Japanese driver then dispensed with Rubens Barrichello and his team-mate Nick Heidfeld and late on found himself bumped up again when Nico Rosberg crashed out due to a mechanical failure. It was Kobayashi's sixth points' finish of the season.
“I tried my best and I am very happy,” Kobayashi reflected. “It was a great race for our team, and I'm very pleased for the Japanese fans who have watched an exciting race.
“It is the second time we have got both cars in the points, and for me it was really something to come back here and race for the first time after seven years in front of my home crowd.
“Nevertheless it was a very tough race today. Qualifying and the race in the space of only a few hours made it quite a busy and unusual Sunday. After the start I saw the accidents in front of me, and I was really lucky not to be hit.
“Later it was not too easy to overtake and I had some contact. The car was damaged, but it was not too severe and I was able to finish the race.
“I really want to thank the team for the great job and the fans for their fantastic support this weekend.”
Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn and technical director, James Key, meanwhile were both impressed with Kobayashi's fighting drive: “Kamui was simply incredible in his home race,” said Kaltenborn. “The way he overtook several competitors was absolutely spectacular.”
Key echoed those sentiments: “Kamui did a great job to hang on with the prime. He drove superbly to control his race, but overtook as well on a track where overtaking is very difficult. On the option tyres at the end he was absolutely brilliant.”