| AP Photo/Mark Baker
Kamui Kobayashi is on a relentless search to seek sponsors to secure his seat at Sauber next year.
The Japanese driver could be at the end of his Formula 1 career unless he manages to bag enough financial backing to support his future in the sport, regardless of his performances this season.
At his home race at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month, the 26-year-old secured his first podium result in F1 but that wasn’t enough to provide him certainty about his seat beyond the current season.
“I am working on it. After I came back from Korea and the first time I came back from Suzuka to Tokyo there was little time for celebration,” Kobayashi said. “I had to work to get sponsor. It’s something that what I didn’t want after Suzuka but that’s the situation.
“Normally top teams have the budget so for them it doesn’t matter but lesser teams there’s a different budget system. I understand that,” he pointed out.
But Sauber maintains that the financial situation is not the sole reason that would determine Kobayashi’s future.
“We've always said that we know his strengths, his qualities as a driver and these kind of aspects have not played any role in it,” team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said. “If you look back, even when we took him up, also then people criticised us for that decision, and everyone knew that he doesn't have any sponsorship package so nothing has changed on that.”
Kaltenborn insisted that sponsorship won’t play the definitive role in choosing the driver line-up next year, a decision which will be taken before the season ends.
"We've not had any talk like that and we are generally also looking at him, talking to him and I think we know him quite well by now, to know what we have if we keep him on,” she said.
According to speculation, Sauber is expected to field a completely new driver line-up next season with Nico Hulkenberg and promoting its reserve Esteban Gutierrez to a race seat. Sergio Perez has been announced to drive for McLaren in 2013.