Kamui Kobayashi is confident he is ready to lead the Sauber team forward in 2011 even though he is only just starting his second full year in Formula 1.
The Japanese driver was paired with the experienced Pedro de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld at Sauber last season, but is now the relative veteran in the team as he has been joined by GP2 runner-up Sergio Perez. Kobayashi acknowledged that he would have to approach 2011 differently as Sauber would now be relying on him more.
"My rookie season was a very challenging, very exciting period," he said at the launch of Sauber's new C30 at Valencia today. "Now it's still exciting, but it's a different role. It's more the experienced driver in the team. I am thinking how I can bring a good level to the team.
"I have to be ready to lead the team. That's why Peter Sauber and the team chose me for this year. This is definitely my challenge and let's say I am ready to be the leader for the team."
Kobayashi built his F1 reputation with a string of spectacular overtaking moves during his rookie campaign, and said he had found passing perfectly straightforward without the aid of the new-for-2011 rear wing system.
"In my first race, I had a couple of over takings," he recalled. "For me that was normal things, it was nothing special. It was just my race. Of course, it's difficult to overtake, but in that period as a rookie that's my confidence how I can overtake, and I am still using this confidence. This helped a lot last year."
He admitted he was not totally convinced of the wisdom of the adjustable wing device.
"For the driver it's difficult with the system," said Kobayashi. "If it works it's very nice, but if something happens it can be very dangerous."