Kobayashi: I don’t need money. I just want to drive. I don’t care about money

Kamui Kobayashi back in Formula 1 after a one year lay-off

Kamui Kobayashi back in Formula 1 after a one year lay-off

Kamui Kobayashi has returned to Formula 1  after agreeing a deal with Caterham to race for no salary and pay the team more than $1 million raised from fans through online donations.

The Japanese driver, whose comeback was announced by the tail-end team on Tuesday, said that he met owner Tony Fernandes at a Queens Park Rangers soccer match in London in December and said that he “just wanted to drive”.

“I am free. You get more money than me,” he told Reuters with a grin after his presentation to staff at the Caterham factory in central England.

“We paid with my fans’ donations and I have to really thank my Japanese fans. I think [that] I could not get this seat without my fans.

Kamui Kobayashi was involved with Ferrari's GT programme and F1 show car in 2013

Kamui Kobayashi was involved with Ferrari’s GT programme and F1 show car in 2013

“I don’t need money. I just want to drive. I don’t care about money. I want to be a success in my life and bring the team that success. This is my goal.”

Kobayashi, the only current Japanese F1 driver, set up a website in 2012 to get him back on the grid at at a time when more and more teams were looking for drivers with financial backing.

It was too late for 2013 but he kept on plugging away while racing in sportscars with a Ferrari team.

Fernandes, he said unsurprisingly, was quite happy with the zero salary arrangement.

The Malaysian airline entrepreneur, who also runs QPR in the second tier of English soccer and had been interested in signing Kobayashi before he went to Sauber in 2010, said that the money had not been a consideration.

Kamui Kobayashi's best result in F1 was third place in the 2012 Japanese GP

Kamui Kobayashi’s best result in F1 was third place in the 2012 Japanese GP

Fernandes felt sure that Kobayashi, a “fan-pleasing driver” who last raced in F1 in 2012 when he finished third in his home Japanese Grand Prix with Sauber, was just the man to shake up the team.

“Whether I get a million, half a million or save two million, in the scheme of things makes no difference when you are talking about 80 million pound (€97 million) budgets,” the owner told reporters.

“What we thought Kamui brought is maybe that little bit of spark. Something you can’t really quantify, that maybe just motivates the rest of the 250 people to say ‘we’ve got a chance now, we’ve got a warrior who is going to go in there and do whatever [it takes] to move this team on’.

“That’s the main reason we’ve taken him. We’ve seen on the track, it’s well-documented that he goes for it. My message in signing him is to tell the people…that we’ve got to go for it. This is it.”

Kamui Kobayashi has a big fan base

Kamui Kobayashi has a big fan base

Fernandes said that there were also “business advantages” in signing Kobayashi, with an Asian-owned team having an Asian driver and possibly bringing in some new backers.

Even then, he added,  it was the driver’s fighting spirit that stood out and changed his mind after he had previously been on the verge of bringing back Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen.

“There’s something in his eyes. He [is] hungry,” he said of the Japanese who had a few rough edges in his time at Sauber but thrilled fans with his daring and eagerness to at least try and overtake. “And I want everyone in this team to be hungry.

“It might be a disaster in some races but I’d rather die trying than not try.” (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

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  • McLarenfan

    Kamui Kobayashi should still be on the grid I for one am pleased to hear he is back.

  • RBC

    Better than Heiki who told his management to not look for money to support the team. Wonderful news.

  • Spartacus

    Gonna buy the Caterham team attire in Melbourne!

  • MichaelC

    This is good news, but I can barely stomach the fact that fans have been donating their hard earned cash towards getting him a seat. I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt KK comes from a poor background if he managed to make it to F1 in the first place…. seems a bit wrong.

  • F1 sucks now

    Honda should back this guy up , and send him to McLaren instead Jenson Button , in that way Mc can save 11 million a year in Button salary , is been proof that Jenson can help to develop a car , so why keep him ?

  • Jose

    I remember the support that Honda gave to Sato, maybe they will do the same for Kamui..Cool


  • sf4everyone

    @MichaelC Kobayashi comes from a family that ran a modest sushi restaurant in Osaka. He is by no means from a wealthy family. They are middle class family who work very hard. I know this bc i am from japan and have people who know him and his family personally.

  • stoner (original)

    Great to have him back.. :):):)

  • Homo Sapiens

    I understand the desire of Kamui for racing and success but for nothing? in a immensely rich business like F1 or not Bernie? It is a shame your F1.

  • Matthew

    He’s whoring himself out! Shameful.