Kamui Kobayashi says next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix will be a boost to the people of his home country as they continue to come to terms with the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the nation back in March.
More than 15,000 people were killed in the disaster, with the country now busy rebuilding and coming to terms with what happened.
Kobayashi is to welcome a number of families from one of the worst affected regions as his personal guests for the Suzuka race and the Sauber driver admitted that the fact the race is going ahead was positive for the Japanese people.
“After the news we received in March about the disaster became worse and worse, I think the way the country has recovered so far is impressive,” he said. “This is because Japan received a lot of help from outside and also because the Japanese are very strong people and have given each other an awful lot of help and support. Of course, there is still a long way to go, but the progress has been remarkable.
“The Grand Prix is a very big event in Japan, it is something very positive for the people and for the country, and also because of the international awareness the race brings. It makes people happy, and they do enjoy Formula One a lot. So we are going racing there, as we have done in previous years, despite the tragedy that has hit the country.
“I am proud to go home and race there, this is certain.”
Kobayashi scored his best result of the season last year in his home race with seventh place and he will hope to finish inside the top ten again this time around, despite admitting his season so far has been 'mixed'.
“We are certainly more competitive than last year,” he said. “We had an amazing start to the season in Melbourne, and also since then have had some other good races in which we have been quite competitive. My highlights were Monaco and Montreal. But we have also had our struggles. In Melbourne we lost ten points when we were disqualified, then I had punctures in Turkey and Barcelona, and then gearbox problems in Silverstone and most recently in Monza. You can add to that the fact not all our technical developments during the season brought the progress we expected. So far it has been a mixed season with ups and downs, but it isn't over yet.”