Sauber boss reasurres Kamui Kobayashi over his future


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The Independent Online

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has told Kamui Kobayashi he is under no pressure to bring in sponsors to secure his seat for next season.

Kobayashi expressed hope last month of securing backing to aid his cause in holding on to a drive that has been his with the Swiss-based team for the past three years.

The Japanese driver has proven himself capable, if a little erratic on occasion, with the latter characteristic often drawing his future into doubt.

Although Sauber are on a more secure financial footing than they were at the end of 2010 when BMW withdrew their support, that would not stop them from heading down the pay-driver route.

Reserve Esteban Gutierrez remains favourite to take the second seat at Sauber, who last month appointed Nico Hulkenberg as replacement for McLaren-bound Sergio Perez, given the considerable amount of Mexican sponsorship on the car.

Despite that, Kaltenborn insists Kobayashi, who has scored almost as many points this season as he has the previous two and who trails Perez by only eight in the current standings, is not on trial going into the last two races in Austin on Sunday and then Sao Paulo.

"We're not going to take the last two races and see if he is good or bad, whether it's a plus or a minus point. That's not fair to him," said Kaltenborn, speaking to Press Association Sport.

"He's been with us three years now and we know him very well.

"When he came into Formula One we gave him the trust required - without any baggage - to show he is a very talented driver.

"From that perspective he should know the teams knows him well and trusts him."

Asked specifically whether Kobayashi required sponsorship to retain his seat, Kaltenborn replied: "No.

"We didn't even do that at the end of 2010 when, with regards to running the team, we were starting from scratch again.

"At that time we took him for his pure skills and he brought no sponsor along. We got nothing.

"So I don't think it's right to now suddenly make it an issue, and there is no pressure on him. It's about what he does on the track."

Kobayashi is at least playing his part in Sauber enjoying their best season for a number of years, away from BMW's four-year influence from 2006-2009.

Sauber have pulled 29 points clear of Force India in the battle for sixth place, and now have Mercedes in their sights just 12 points ahead of them as they look to pinch fifth.

"You should never say you are in a comfortable position because you never know what can happen, and especially looking at Sao Paulo where you can be really surprised by the outcome," said Kaltenborn.

"More importantly we have closed the gap a little to the front. We know it's still going to be very tough.

"But looking at what we feel are the characteristics for the next two races, we have the confidence to fight for this position."