As he settled into his new home at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking to start a new , Sergio Perez spared a thought for his former team mate Kamui Kobayashi who looks set to have to watch the 2013 F1 season from the sidelines.
Kobayashi found himself out of a seat at Sauber for the forthcoming season after the team confirmed Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez as their drivers for this year' campaign. Kobayashi attempted an online fund-raising effort to gather sufficient sponsorship funds to secure him a place elsewhere, but in December finally had to admit defeat when it came to 2013. (See story
However, the Japanese driver said at the time that he was refocusing his efforts on returning in 2014, and his former Sauber team mate Perez has said that he fully expects to see Kobayashi make a successful comeback next year.
"I'm sure he'll be back next year," said the young Mexican, who landed his plumb new role at McLaren after Lewis Hamilton opted to move to Mercedes. "I am sure with his speed he can find a good seat and hopefully we can have him back."
Perez also talked up Kobayashi as a team mate, saying that they had worked well together in their two years at Sauber.
"Kamui is a great driver, a great guy, and somebody than can do a great job," Perez told reporters on Wednesday. "So I think in a way I feel sorry for him."
Kobayashi succeeded in crowd-sourcing almost £7 million in backing from fans with his innovative online funding campaign before he called a halt to it last month, but by that time all the seats he felt that he had a viable chance of getting had already been taken. The only seats still to be confirmed by F1 teams for 2013 are at Force India and Caterham.
Kobayashi has said that he will announce his plans for 2013 "as soon as I make a decision," but added that "My main priority is to secure the competitive F1 seat in 2014 - I have no interests to race any other categories."