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Catching Up With.... Kamui Kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi makes his sportscar racing debut in 2013, driving in the Ferrari F458 GTE with Toni Vilander for the World Endurance Championship.  The Japanese driver, loved by fans in Formula One for his attacking style, began his apprenticeship in sportscar racing at Paul Ricard.

“The first thing I have to say is the big surprise I had with the LMP1 cars – it’s a big difference in speed to our car,” smiles the young charger – smiling is something Kamui Kobayashi does regularly and infectiously.  “At these weekends there will be even more cars on the track so we’ll struggle a lot to manage racing with our class and less with other classes.  That’s the biggest surprise.”

He’s still very new to the car.

“I’ve had a couple of tests at some other tracks, but I’d like some more time in the dry.  It was a bit wet this morning, but then we had some good weather, which was a chance for some more consistency.” 

“The driving is the same,” he shrugs.  “Always you have to adapt, even in Formula One.  In F1 you have to start with this huge full tank, which is more than this car.  You had 140 or 150kg and this is only 100kg.  I actually think with Formula One you have to adapt more.  With this car you can do things – if you want to change settings it’s very quick.  Actually, this car feels easier.”

Making his debut alongside Ferrari development driver Vilander is a big fillip for a man making a switch like this.

“I’ve got some very experienced team mates, and that’s a very good thing - I don’t struggle to share a set up with another driver – I’m a very easy driver!”

Clearly, though, there’s only one goal…

“We’ve got very good expectations for the season.  This is a good team, last year’s champions, and that’s our target, to win again.  For me, it’s a very early beginning, so it’s very difficult to say.”

It’s hard to shake the feeling that the more time he gets in the car, the more his talent will shine through and he’ll turn out to be a good addition to the sportscar grid.