Kamui Kobayashi will race on in Formula 1 next year after signing a deal with the Sauber team for 2010.
The Japanese rookie made a strong impression during two outings for Toyota in the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix this year – earning respect for the way he battled with Jenson Button in both events. His performances had appeared to have been enough to secure him a ride with the Toyota team for 2010, but those plans were wrecked when the Japanese manufacturer pulled out of F1. However, following weeks of talks, Kobayashi has concluded a deal with Sauber to join the team that is taking over from BMW's operations.
Speaking about the move, Kobayashi said: "Ever since the start of my career I have dreamed of racing in Formula 1. Now this dream has come true.
"I am very happy that my two races in 2009 have earned me a cockpit place. I will do my very best for Peter Sauber's team and I am proud to be able to carry on flying the Japanese flag in Formula 1."
Sauber boss Peter Sauber said his decision had been fueled by the fact that Kobayashi made such a strong showing in the last two races of the year, despite not having sat in an F1 car for several months before that.
"I'm very much looking forward to working together with Kamui," said Sauber. "In the final two grands prix of last season he was granted an unexpected chance to show his skills, and he made impressive use of it. Particularly in the Abu Dhabi race, he demonstrated not only that he can drive fast and aggressively, but also his ability to successfully implement a strategy. I am convinced he has a great deal of potential and will be able to make the most of it in our team."
Kobayashi revealed after Abu Dhabi that if he did not land a race seat in F1 for next year his lack of funding would probably mean he would have to return home to Japan to work in his father's sushi restaurant.