Q & A with Kamui Kobayashi

Q. So you must be happy with how things went in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

Q & A with Kamui Kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi: Yes! I think it is fair.

Q. What was the best bit - scoring the points of overtaking Jenson Button?

KK:: Yeah, actually I think the most important thing for us was overtaking Kimi Raikkonen, and also Jenson as well. After that, when I changed to the option tyre, my pace was struggling a little bit at the beginning. But, after that my pace came back and it was definitely good. I think I could still have improved on my position, because [Robert] Kubica and Rubens [Barrichello] were not too far ahead.

Q. The fact that you ran at Suzuka on the Friday, do you think that helped you - as you have easily been the best rookie?

KK:: Not really. Because it was wet conditions, and it added nothing really.

Q. So how can you explain that the first time you are in the car you do so well?

KK:: I was not really perfect in Interlagos. I finished the race but I had many things I could have done better. This time, we tried to find all the problems and we tried to improve. We came here, to this new track, and I had a really good chance - and I had a good end of the race. We did a really good two weeks from Interlagos.

Q. Were you expecting this kind of result?

KK:: Really, just my target was to score points. I didn't expect it, but I recognised after practice that my pace was pretty good. I was quite disappointed about my qualifying position, because I could have got through to Q3, but I was out in Q2. But I was quite confident of the race performance especially, so we tried to stay on a one-stop strategy which was finally a better strategy for us. And we did a really good result. Still I have to make improvements on many things, but at the moment I scored points which is my goal - and I can say I did a really good race and the team did a good job. And I can spend some time now having a good holiday.

Q. So what do you expect for next year now?

KK:: I don't know.

Q. John Howett has said that you are pretty much a shoe-in for a Toyota drive for next year. What do you think about that?

KK:: I don't know. I have tried to be a Toyota driver for next year, but I didn't know how much I could show before. I just had to do the best at each moment - and it seems to have finally worked well. Still I have many things to do - I have to improve qualifying, and I need time. But in the last two weeks they have been quite good for me.

Q. Do you anticipate a deal being done?

KK:: The future for me, I cannot decide. Of course I have got more chance, but I cannot decide for next year - so I am waiting for a long winter and we will see.

Q. But John has said it is likely you will be there?

KK:: Yeah, for me it is good. But I don't know. I haven't signed anything. Of course, I still only have Toyota possibility because I am a Toyota young driver. But I don't want to believe so much. If I have to drive, I will drive and do what I have to do. I will prepare for next year to drive, but I cannot say anything about next year yet because it is not my decision.

Q. Pascal Vasselon says the time you lost behind Jenson cost you a solid fourth place. Do you think that was the case?

KK:: Yes, it lost me quite a lot. Otherwise, I think I could have finished fourth maybe. My pace was really pretty good. In P4 at that moment my engineer said, 'you are fighting for a podium', and I thought 'oh, wow' I have to push. Then Jenson came and I had quite a long time to recover my pace, and was missing quite a lot of time. Otherwise, I think I could have finished in front of Rubens and Kubica.

Q. Have you found an F1 car easier to drive and more comfortable for your style than other categories, because you struggled in GP2 this year but seem so at ease in F1?

KK:: GP2 for me was really difficult. My pace was always two seconds off and I could not believe it. GP2 is a good category, very competitive, but for me it was a difficult season.

The fact that I had a difficult season may be why I could improve so easily, you know. I know how it works if I have a bad situation - of where I have to improve. In GP2 I know what didn't work well. In Asia my performance was really good but then in Europe I could not believe I was two seconds off.

We tried to work to improve, but we could not find a way. But you have an once-in-a-lifetime chance in F1. I had problems in Brazil, we tried to find the problems, we did that, and finally it was better pace here. For me, it is easier to improve in F1 than GP2. There, there were just a few things to changes. In F1, you can develop everything for myself. This is what is really different in F1.

Q. And it is amazing about how your reputation has been transformed by circumstances over these two races - because without them it would have been hard for you to get the Toyota drive next year?

KK:: Yes, really hard! That was why for two weeks I was always in Germany. I came back to my home for just one day. Then I was in Germany for briefings. At that moment, I didn't know if I would be able to drive - but in case I was driving I knew I had one chance to show what I could do. So I had to think, I had to organise it before and understand what was happening. I had to do everything to understand what the problems were in Interlagos, and if I had the chance - everything, tyre work, car set-up, I worked on.

Q. What did you do specifically to prepare for this last grand prix?

KK:: Tyre work. I was struggling with tyres in Interlagos and this time we tried to manage the tyres all the time - set-up, as well. Even communication over the days, about what I wanted.

Q. So what will be your targets for next season?

KK:: Of course it is difficult to think about being world champion, but first of all I want to think of podium and victory, this is only my target for next year. I know it is not easy, but we have to work hard.

Q. Do you think you can achieve that with Toyota?

KK:: Of course. They are good for me, and I know how Toyota is working.

Q. Where do you live?

KK:: In Paris. I am not French, but I live in Paris! I like it in France, it is nice. I like the food - there is a lot of Japanese - and especially the pace of life. For me, it is more acceptable.

Q. Having said what you said about GP2, if you cannot be in F1 next year, what will you do? Will you race there again?

KK:: No, no, no. I have no budget, no budget. So I cannot drive GP2 for next year. I would probably go back to Japan to maybe work with my father in his sushi restaurant! It was like that two months ago, seriously. When I was 16 years old, I worked there - making sushi!

Q. So if these races had not happened, and you impressed enough to have now all but secured a Toyota F1 drive for next year, you think your career would have been over?

KK:: Yes, it was. Two months ago.

Q. You showed here in Abu Dhabi that you are not fazed about racing against big stars, like world champion Jenson Button, and going wheel-to-wheel with them. Is that a deliberate attitude?

KK:: I mean, I don't need to be worried for me - because it is not the mafia! It is true. It is not the mafia. If I have to change something, I have to change. They have to understand. I don't care if they say I did something wrong, but if I have to change some parts to improve so we understand each other, then I will. Racing is the most important thing.

In Brazil I did not anything. I really had a big head trying to cope with all the stuff - managing everything, the driving. It was not possible to think. But this time, I had more time.

Q. What did you change between Interlagos and here?

KK:: Just driving style - to think more about the tyres. The only problem now is qualifying. Doing one lap is still difficult, so I need to understand more to improve.

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