Kobayashi at Suzuka – bad sign for GP2?

I must confess I am not a big fan of Kamui Kobayashi.  Several times this season I have been quite hard on him and his poor results.  Why?  Because he is a TRD (Toyota) driver and has increased pressure to do kamui toyota F1well.  Regardless of my opinion, Kam is Toyota F1’s 3rd driver.  This past weekend at Suzuka he was called in to carry out the Friday practice sessions as Timo Glock was a bit under the weather.   As a bizarre set of coincidences, Glock ended up back in the car on Saturday and crashed heavily during Q2, leaving him with deep cuts that made it impossible for him to race on Sunday.

As Kam had driven on Friday, he was eligible to race on Sunday.  He has a Superlicense as a result of his GP2 Asia championship and only a significant opposition from teams would have prevented him from being on the grid.  Yet, Kam wasn’t in the second Toyota this morning.

Only 2 reasons for this:  either Toyota decided not to put him in the car or the FIA did not allow Kam to race due to his lack of F1 experience.   Not sure what happened, but regardless this decision is terrible for GP2 drivers and their jobs as F1 test/third drivers.

1.  If Toyota decided not to run him, it speaks very little of their TRD program and their trust in the drivers they sponsor in junior categories.  A driver like Kobayashi should be race-ready at all times, and the fact that he’s the 3rd driver should be enough of a reason.

2. If it was the FIA that did not allow Kam to race, it makes a huge dent on the aspirations of younger drivers and destroys any sort of value proposition for junior teams.  A driver that races regularly (and wins) in categories such as GP2 should always have the green light to race.  After all, both Alguersuari and Grosjean were given the OK to race without any testing during the season.  If that is the excuse for not allowing drivers to substitute, as would have been the case at Suzuka, then the no-test rule in 2009 is a real death sentence for drivers such as Kobayashi, DiGrassi and the many others that will be moving up the racing ladder in the coming years.

Bottom line is, I don’t know why Kam didn’t race, but the fact that he didn’t for me is a clear sign that he was not trusted for some reason.  If a 3rd driver is not the one who will step in at any time then there is no reason at all to have a reserve driver in teams.  They will just pick up drivers whenever is convenient…..

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9 Responses to Kobayashi at Suzuka – bad sign for GP2?

  1. gabal says:

    I think the problem was in FIA rules. A driver needs to participate in at least one Saturday session to be eligible to start in the race. Toyota asked stewards for special dispensation that would allow Kobayashi to race as there is a rule by which a driver can get a drive if there was ”force majeur” preventing other driver from racing. However, I think that stewards never allowed somebody in due to ”force majeur” so they didn’t allow Kobayashi to race.

    In short – Toyota did try to get Kobayashi in race but FIA said no as they were clinged stricly on the rulebook.

  2. gp2 insider says:

    My point exactly Gabal… Why can’t an experienced GP2 driver who actually drove on Friday, be allowed to race under these “force majeur” circumstances?

    For me, this is a slap in the face for all test drivers, not just the GP2 guys, and seriously puts in doubt the general reserve driver system.

    As I said in the post, a driver like Jaime Alguersuari, with NO F1 experience (only a straight line) and only a couple GP2 tests was allowed to practice, qualify and race. Not sure I see the difference here. Grosjean at least tested for Renault F1 during the off-season, AS DID Kam Kobayashi!

    These are the small incoherent things that destroy the value proposition for teams such as those competing in GP2.

    If I was Bruno Michel, I would be seriously PISSED OFF and demanding that this be rectified ASAP – for the benefit of my clients, the GP2 teams and drivers. But I guess asking this from Bruno may be a bit too much given his track record…

  3. gp2aswell says:

    but the hope of the drivers, and clients both for GP2 and GP2 teams, will always be to have the opportunity to go there.

    and all of us know that every driver will note Grosjean and Hulkenberg, or Buemi in F1, not a 3rd experienced driver like Kamui, NOT in the car…

  4. monegasque says:

    This is the point:
    GP2insider wrote : “and seriously puts in doubt the general reserve driver system.”
    So, who can fight this system ?

  5. gp2 insider says:

    My point is that a GP2 driver with experience, who drove in a Friday practice should ALWAYS be allowed to race… well any reserve driver. What’s the point of going to F1 weekends with the reserve drivers, then? Just an extra expense? What are DiGrassi, Hulkenberg, Davidson and Klien – to name a few – doing there then!?!?

  6. Hannah Banana says:

    F1 rules are: a driver can only participate in race if he took part at least of Practice 3.
    Kobayashi did Practice 1 and 2. Plus, in wet conditions, not dry.
    Anyways, rules are rules. That’s the only reason why he was not allowed to race in lieu of Glock.

    • gp2 insider says:

      I understand, but I think that’s the problem. Why does Saturday count but not Friday? Why does a 3rd driver need to have driven that weekend to be eligible? My comments are that these make no sporting sense and ruin the chances of many young drivers… most GP2 guys.

  7. gabal says:

    I don’t know has any driver been allowed to race if he hasn’t completed a Saturday session? The rule is there but it seems there are no precedents to it being actually used (as far as I know).

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