Kamui Kobayashi has joked about how he was destined to spend 2010 working in his father's sushi restaurant. It's a snappy line, but more likely he would have slipped into the lucrative Japanese domestic racing scene in Formula Nippon and Super GT. Either way, he was all washed up one year in Europe one year ago.
Even Toyota had lost much of its faith in him in the wake of a dismal GP2 campaign during which he netted only one, reversed grid, podium finish. After ending the season 16th in the standings, a third Toyota-backed campaign in the F1 feeder series was a long-shot and he was unlikely even to retain his reserve driver role with the Japanese manufacturer's grand prix team.
Yet today, he is established as a bone fide Formula 1 driver, scoring 22 points in his first 15 starts. To turn around a career that had stalled, seemingly irreversibly, in the GP2 midfield after two poor seasons in Europe is a remarkable achievement. It's hard to think of a driver who has performed so incredible a Lazarus act in recent years. And he has Timo Glock - himself something of an F1 comeback kid - to thank for the opportunity.
When the German ploughed into the wall on the run to start/finish during qualifying for last year's Japanese Grand Prix, Kobayashi's window of opportunity, which by then seemed not only to have been bolted shut but also bricked up and painted over, reopened. Ballast located in the nose of the Toyota had become dislodged and gashed Glock's left leg and subsequent scans showed a back injury - possibly an old injury that had been agitated - that left the German on the sidelines for Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Enter Kobayashi.
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