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Bahraini star could be his nation`s first F1 hope.

Rising young Bahraini star Hamad Al Fardan could have a future as the first of his countrymen to break into Formula 1 – that is the view of recently-appointed Toyota test driver Kamui Kobayashi.

The 20-year-old is the son of one of the Middle East's most illustrious rally drivers, Ahmed Al Fardan, and began his own car racing career in single-seaters four years ago in the Formula BMW Asia Championship, finishing an impressive third in the rookie title chase at his debut attempt.

In 2007 Al Fardan competed for Performance Racing in the Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series, making strong progress as the season wore on to end the campaign third in the National Class drivers' standings. He went on to triumph in the opening round of the inaugural 2007/08 Asian F3 Championship for Team GFH in November, and this year will participate in the F3 Euroseries for an as-yet unrevealed team ahead of a planned assault on the 2008/09 GP2 Asia honours.

“I am maybe only on the same level as he is,” Kobayashi told Gulf Daily News. “I'm still growing up, especially in racing in Europe. I think I have improved though, particularly in the style of racing, which is very much different from that in Japan.”

The 21-year-old F3 Euroseries graduate will conduct his testing duties for Toyota this year alongside a maiden GP2 campaign with Jean-Paul Driot's DAMS squad. He prescribed a similar diet of hard work and determination to that which had secured him the Toyota role, should Al Fardan wish to become his nation's first representative in the top flight

“As a racing driver, you really need to use your mind,” Kobayashi asserted, “but you must also work on your physical condition. It is important to be prepared in everything.

“That's why I always tell myself that I need to be completely ready all the time. Otherwise, once I get an opportunity in a race, I may face some problems if I am not prepared and I may lose my chance.”

There has been a Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir International Circuit every year since 2004, with a race in Abu Dhabi also set to join the F1 calendar in 2009.

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