Kamui Kobayashi has admitted that the manner in which his career turned around late last year surprised even himself.
With the 2009 F1 season winding down, the 23-year-old thought he was attending his last grands prix as the withdrawing Toyota’s reserve driver.
Despite winning the preceding GP2 Asia Series, Kobayashi’s campaign in the main F1 feeder championship had not gone as expected, and he did not have the budget to stay in Europe in 2010.
Although allergic to sushi, he was facing up to having to return to Japan to work in the kitchen of his father’s restaurant.
Then came Timo Glock’s qualifying crash and injuries sustained at Suzuka, allowing Kobayashi to fill the German’s cockpit in Brazil and Abu Dhabi and so impress the F1 world and Peter Sauber with his exciting racing style.
“I fought all the way (in GP2) and I never gave up the idea that I could do better,” he is quoted as saying by France’s Auto Hebdo.
“That paid off in Brail and Abu Dhabi (in F1). It was my chance.
“I must admit that it is difficult to believe how much things changed from one moment to another. I was quite surprised myself,” he smiled.
Kobayashi also appreciates Toyota’s loyalty to him amid the team’s flagging career and his lukewarm season in GP2.
“From the outside, it is difficult to understand their decision, as people tend to forget you after a series of poor results.
“I was lucky and I am very, very happy,” added the Japanese, whose new Sauber mount impressed at the Valencia test last week.
“But with hindsight it is difficult to say what happened. Sometimes, luck and circumstance decide your future,” he said.