Kamui Kobayashi has been rewarded for his debut F1 season after picking up the Rookie of the Year prize at the annual Autosport awards.

The Sauber driver took the award, which was voted for by race fans, ahead of fellow F1 drivers Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg, GP2 pair Jules Bianchi and Sam Bird, and former F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen - who switched to the WRC for 2010 after leaving his position with Ferrari.

Previous winners of the award include current champion Sebastian Vettel and the two men who won the title before him - Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

"Last year I attended the gala just as a guest, and now I am one of the awardees," he said. "Many good drivers have won this rookie award before me, and it is very nice for me to belong to that circle now. Obviously I will never have the chance to win this prize again because next year I'm not a rookie anymore. I will do my best to maybe come back one day to pick up one of the other trophies."

Team boss Peter Sauber, who has roundly praised Kobayashi for his performances during the season, was also pleased to see the Japanese driver rewarded.

"We are very proud of Kamui and it is a great pleasure and honour for us that the readers of Autosport have awarded his performance this way," he said. "Kamui has proved to be a true team player, especially in the first half of the season, which was technically very troublesome, and he has improved constantly over the course of the season. He has shown great performance and established himself against strong competition."