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GP Week : Issue 170
28 GPWEEK.com // 28 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> SUZUKA Kamui Kobayashi is overwhelmed to have achieved his maiden Formula One podium in front of an impassioned Japanese crowd at Suzuka. With his Sauber team-mate Sergio Perez racking up three podium finishes to date, there has been some uncertainty surrounding Kobayashi’s future with the Hinwii-based outfit. The Japanese racer has been unable to convert a number of strong qualifying performances into race results thus far due to a combination of bad luck and inconsistency – for example, he was caught up in the first corner chaos at Spa following a slow getaway from the front row of the grid. However, starting from third on home soil at Suzuka, Kobayashi emerged from turn one in second place. He lost track position to Ferrari’s Felipe Massa after the first round of pit stops, but stood firm against a charging Jenson Button in the closing stages to claim a popular third-place result. Kobayashi said: “It hasn’t sunk in yet – it’s hard to believe I achieved my first podium at Suzuka! “It was a fantastic race and we have been working really hard to get to this point, since we were lacking pace on Friday. My rear tyres were really bad in the end and I had a lot of oversteer. But regardless of this I had to push to defend my podium place. He added: “Only during the final lap did I allow myself to really think I can keep Button behind me. Then I saw all the fans and the raised hands. It meant a lot to me and I want to thank the Japanese crowd.” Now he has broken his podium duck, Kobayashi hopes for more success in the final five races of the season – starting with next weekend’s Korean Grand Prix – to cement his place with Sauber. “It means so much to me that it finally worked out,” said Kobayashi. “Maybe from now on things will be easier.” KOBAYASHI OVERWHELMED BY MAIDEN PODIUM