Q&A with Kamui Kobayashi
GP2 Asia Series: Kamui, congratulations on this title. Fantastic job!
Kamui Kobayashi: Thank you!
GP2 Asia Series: How does that feel, being the GP2 Asia Champion?
Kamui: It feels great, really! That’s what really mattered today. It’s important to show that you can be quick and take risks, but in the end, my job is to take the title. Job done! Now we have another step with the main Series. It’s another target and another challenge. I can’t wait…
GP2 Asia Series: Before the start of the season, everybody was saying that you were the favorite especially after the strong pace you showed during winter testing. Did you feel the pressure?
Kamui: I am not one to feel pressure, because otherwise, I may not be as competitive. But it is true that I felt some pressure in Shanghai because I was quickest the week before during the test on that same track. And then, it was not so good. I was second in qualifying and that was a big shock as we thought we would be on pole position easily. But it was Rodriguez who was quickest. However, starting from P2, I knew I still had the chance to win the race. I made a good start, I pushed and took the lead, but then I made a mistake in the last stages which was another big shock! I told myself that I would never make that mistake again. So I decided that in Dubai I had to really start my season. I did pole and then I won the feature race. I was on the way to a great weekend and make up for the lost points in Shanghai. But then, the sprint race got cancelled! We moved to Bahrain and I did not qualify so good but still managed to win. I was leading the championship by then and that’s when I felt another wave of pressure because I realized that I could really do it and I should get as many points as possible in order to win the championship. Mistakes were not an option at this point otherwise it would have been too difficult to come back. Sometimes, I had to settle with scoring good points, like today, instead of trying to go for the win. This title was my target and thanks to the team and Toyota’s support, I made it. Dams made an amazing job in the Asia Series and it puts us in a really good position for the Main Series. This is really incredible and I am very, very happy tonight.
GP2 Asia Series: You must be a little bit disappointed though to not have been crowned with a final win. You started from pole position, but immediately lost the lead. What happened?
Kamui: I had a really poor start. My engine temperature was really high and my clutch was too hot. So it was a difficult start. I was P5 after the last corner. I could have maybe closed the door and managed to hold my position, but it was to big a risk for me. I knew I had the pace to fight back. After that, I tried to overtake Giedo, but again, it wasn’t safe enough. We decided then to pit early and that put me back in P3. I was behind Rodriguez, but our pace was not as good as I expected as the tires degraded quickly. So I kept my position until Jérôme came and he was super fast. So I let him pass and chose not to fight. It was the best thing to do. Of course, I’m disappointed to have finished fourth when I started from pole position, but I have achieved my goal: I’m champion!
GP2 Asia Series: Do you think this title is going to change your status in the Main Series?
Kamui: I don’t think so, but… I don’t know. I have to get focused on the main Series now: it’s another fight with me before anything else. I’ll have to work on the car, the engine and the staff. This is important for me. I don’t think about what the others think. I don’t care. I want to do the best performance for me. I have to work really hard and it won’t be easy.
GP2 Asia Series: How are you going to celebrate this title?
Kamui: I couldn’t do it on the podium… so I am going to have to do it tonight! Toyota came to congratulate me after the race. This title is an important step towards Formula One and my future. The next step is to win the Main Series now. Still, of course, I will celebrate tonight with Dams and enjoy our success. We worked hard and the team made no mistake this year. We’ll have a drink… soft drink of course! Orange juice and maybe water [laughs]. No, but we have a race tomorrow and I will have to take it seriously. You know, like a champion!