Kobayashi at Suzuka – bad sign for GP2?
October 4, 2009 9 Comments
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 well. 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…..