Kobayashi possible for 2010 seat UPDATE (GMM) After watching Kamui Kobayashi race to sixth place in Abu Dhabi, Toyota team president John Howett on Sunday said the Japanese rookie had staked a worthy claim to a full-time race seat for 2010.
The Cologne based outfit is set to now part with both Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, but both of its high-profile targets Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen have turned down Toyota's advances.
Kobayashi, 23, demonstrated on-track flair two weeks ago in Brazil, and he allied that with genuine pace in Abu Dhabi as he again filled in for the injured Glock.
Asked if he was a shoe-in for a 2010 race seat, Howett told reporters: "It looks like it, yes.
"We have to really seriously consider him now after this good strong result," said the Briton, explaining that Kobayashi's chances are as good as 80 per cent.
Howett confessed he had harbored some doubts about Kobayashi, who despite winning the last GP2 Asia championship, has been less impressive in the F1 feeder category's main series.
"I think it's a definite lesson that sometimes we all should be braver in our driver choices and not go for the safer, risk-hedged decision," he said.
Toyota cannot sign any drivers for next season until its 2010 budget is rubber-stamped at an executive board meeting in Tokyo in two weeks. 10/20/09 (GMM) Kamui Kobayashi is a possibility for a race seat at Toyota next season, team president John Howett has confirmed.
The 23-year-old made his debut in injured Timo Glock's place at Interlagos last weekend, and if German Glock is not recovered by next week, the Japanese will again feature on the Abu Dhabi grid.
It has been believed for some time that Toyota is pushing for Kobayashi, the reigning champion of GP2 Asia, to feature in the F1 lineup, and rumors when Glock had a cold at Suzuka earlier this month caused some reporters to cynically diagnose the German with "Kobayashi fever".
It is rumored Kobayashi's appearances towards the end of the 2009 season might have some connection with a meeting of Toyota's executive board in Tokyo, when on November 15 the struggling car-making giant will consider the team's budget for 2010. zzzz
Kobayashi was praised by some for a high-profile race last Sunday, but there was also some criticism, including by Jenson Button who said the "absolutely crazy" Japanese had been weaving in the braking zones.
Moreover, when asked about Kazuki Nakajima's big crash, Williams' chief engineer Rod Nelson said "Kobayashi moving across him" had resulted in the accident.
Howett told Reuters: "You have to say we have to give him serious consideration but still pace-wise he was a bit slow so we have to see."