Tokyo: The son of a sushi chef with an aversion to raw fish, Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi can hardly be considered typically Japanese.
However, Formula One fans in Japan will get firmly behind their countryman when they get a rare look at Kobayashi at Suzuka next week and the 24-year-old rookie told his team’s website that driving in his home grand prix did not bring added pressure.
“Returning as a Formula One driver means a lot,” said Kobayashi, who owns a Yorkshire Terrier called Alfred and once dreamed of becoming a comedian.
“I had a taste of it last year when I stepped in for Timo Glock at Toyota for the Friday practice. The circuit should suit our car pretty well.”
Kobayashi, who has scored most of Sauber’s points this year with a best result of sixth place, last raced in Japan in 2003 in Formula Toyota.
“It was on the short track in Suzuka,” said Kobayashi, who promised to recover quickly after crashing out of last week’s Singapore race. “I was 17 years old then.”
Next weekend at Suzuka there will be a ‘Kamui Kobayashi’ corner between turns two and three for the local favourite, who has already secured a contract extension with the Swiss-based team for next year.
“It has more than 2,000 seats and has been sold out for quite a while,” he said. “I managed to buy tickets for friends. I hope they will be having fun.”
Despite an impressive start in Formula One, Kobayashi said his first career choice was to be a comedian.
“But I found I wasn’t talented enough,” he said. “My parents were not interested in racing. They still don’t own a road car. I bought myself a car twice but both times my father sold it!
“He runs a Sushi delivery shop. Most likely if I hadn’t been quick in karting perhaps I would have become a sushi chef. But I hate raw fish.”