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Sauber admits Kobayashi exit 'not easiest decision'

Kamui Kobayashi will not be a part of the Sauber line-up next season, but team principal Monisha Kaltenborn admits it was tough to let him go.

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has conceded that it was difficult taking the decision to drop Kamui Kobayashi in favour of Esteban Gutierrez for the 2013 F1 season.

Despite being told as recently as last week that he was under no pressure to bring sponsorship to the team, it is widely believed that the Japanese driver was passed over in favour of the Mexican backing, particularly the continued relationship with Telmex, that Gutierrez's signing could secure. With few other seats available - or available to drivers without significant backing - for 2013, this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix could be Kobayashi's last as an F1 driver.

Force India, Caterham, Marussia and Williams are among the teams with unfilled vacancies, but those seats are likely to be offered to the likes of Bruno Senna, Giedo van der Garde, Max Chilton and Valtteri Bottas before Kobayashi.

“I would very much like to say a few words about Kamui Kobayashi," Kaltenborn insisted, "Over the last three years, he has shown us he is not only a fierce competitor on the track, but also a wonderful person and fantastic team player. Every member of our team has the greatest respect for him, and his podium in Japan was a particularly emotional moment for all of us. This has not been an easy decision for us to take, but we have committed ourselves to a new beginning. We wish Kamui all the best for the future."

Interestingly, Kaltenborn's statement contained the remark that 'our time with Kamui will come to an end after the final two races of the season', suggesting that the decision to sign Gutierrez had, indeed, been taken before the USGP last weekend. Kobayashi's team-mate, Sergio Perez, appeared to have committed a PR faux pas by revealing the final piece in next year's jigsaw before the team announced it, but he was certainly right in his comments....

Perez is headed to McLaren as replacement for Lewis Hamilton in 2013, and Kaltenborn also found time to pay tribute to the Mexican.

"Our thanks also go to Sergio, who has claimed three podiums for the team so far and now has the opportunity at McLaren-Mercedes to display his immense talent with one of the most successful teams in F1 history," she concluded, "We would like to wish Sergio all the best and every success for the future.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Esteban Gutierrez (MEX), Test Driver, Sauber F1 Team C31
12.10.2012-  Free Practice 2, Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT), CEO and Team Principal, Sauber F1 Team
18.11.2012 - Race, Kamui Kobayashi (JAP) Sauber F1 Team C31 and Sergio Pérez (MEX) Sauber F1 Team C31
16.11.2012 - Free practice 2, Kamui Kobayashi (JAP) Sauber F1 Team C31
16.11.2012 - Free practice 1, Kamui Kobayashi (JAP) Sauber F1 Team C31
22.11.2012- Kamui Kobayashi (JAP) Sauber F1 Team C31
Sauber C36 Ferrari
Sauber C36 Ferrari
Sauber C36 Ferrari
27.11.2016 - Race, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 and Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team VF-16
27.11.2016 - Race, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34
27.11.2016 - Race, Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34
27.11.2016 - Race, Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34 and Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB12
27.11.2016 - Race, Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34
27.11.2016 - Race, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 and Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB12
27.11.2016 - Race, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34
27.11.2016 - Race, Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34 leads Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-16

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tucker - Unregistered

November 23, 2012 1:14 PM

Sergio Perez: 66 points (10th in the Championship) gets a drive at McLaren in 2013. Kamui Kobaysahi: 58 points (11th in the Championship) gets the boot and won't be driving in F1 in 2013. Somehow that doesn't add up to me. Sauber are looking for money not skill.

LJ - Unregistered

November 23, 2012 1:21 PM

If Monisha wanted to move up the constructors table she has made the wrong move. I just don't see Gutierrez scoring a big haul of points next year. I'm trying to be not bitter, but I hope this blows up in Saubers face. This move has nothing to do with talent and all about money. If it had been Frijns they were replacing Kobayashi with, I might be able to forgive them as I can see him as a future talent.. Gutierrez.. Not so much.

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