Kamui Kobayashi has expressed his delight at being re-signed by the Toyota Formula 1 team to remain as their test and reserve driver for the 2009 season.
A protégé of the Toyota driver development programme, Kobayashi paralleled his graduation from Formula 3 to GP2 in 2008 with a chance to also wait in the wings with the Toyota F1 team.
Although a difficult maiden season in GP2 didn't prompt any firm offers in F1, a superb turn in post-season testing and a fast start in the current GP2 Asia Series means Kobayashi was the obvious choice for Toyota when it came to firming up their line-up for 2009.
Admitting his primary target remains his bid to win the 2009 GP2 Series title with DAMS, Kobayashi was nonetheless pleased to be splitting his time with a chance to test with Toyota once again.
“I'm really pleased to be continuing with the team and I'm looking forward to the challenge of developing the TF109. It will be another busy season for me because I will be racing in GP2 Asia and the GP2 Series as well as being third driver with Toyota but I am young and I love driving racing cars so it's no problem for me.
“This is an important year for me because I want to enjoy success in GP2 as this is the perfect stepping stone for a career in Formula 1. I don't know what the future will hold but I will fight all the way this year, never giving up and always giving everything I can.”
Eager to use this season as a basis from which to graduate to F1 in 2010, Kobayashi has set his sights on becoming the first Japanese driver to win an F1 race, preferably with Toyota.
“The biggest thing for me is that no Japanese driver has ever been a Formula 1 winner so that is my ultimate dream. I know it would make the Japanese people incredibly proud if a Japanese driver could win races in a Toyota; that would mean a lot. But before thinking about that kind of thing, my priority has to be constantly improving and eventually earning a Formula 1 race seat.”
Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina was also pleased to be confirming Kobayashi for another season, particularly given the promise he has shown in GP2 recently.
“I am very pleased to once again have Kamui as our third driver. He developed a lot during last year and he continues to learn and improve. I followed his progress last season in GP2 and GP2 Asia very closely; he had an exciting season, with some wins, but his results were not as good as I think he deserved. It is satisfying to have a young Japanese driver in Formula 1 with Toyota but Kamui knows he must work hard and continue improving.”