Kamui Kobayashi's emotional podium finish in the Japanese Grand Prix is unlikely to have much impact on his chances of staying at Sauber next year, say his bosses.
The Japanese driver delighted his home crowd with a third-place finish on merit at Suzuka after holding off late-race pressure from Jenson Button. With Kobayashi working hard to convince the team that he is worth keeping for next year, the result has come at the perfect time for him.
However, Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn said that the team's driver decision for next year – which she says will be made during this season – will not be swayed by a single strong result because the team is already well aware of Kobayashi's qualities.
"For us it has not really changed much," she said about what influence the podium will have on Kobayashi's future at Sauber. "It would not have been the other way around. Had he not had a good result, we could not have said that if you don't do it, you are not going to be here next year.
"We are in the process of making our decision and we know him very well. We know his strengths very well, so we don't need these kind of results for that."
With Felipe Massa's podium finish in Japan strengthening his chances of remaining at Ferrari for another season, Force India's Nico Hulkenberg has now emerged as the favorite to move to Sauber next year as replacement for Sergio Perez. Kobayashi remains a contender for the second seat – and his prospects will be boosted if his podium finish helps secure sponsorship backing from Japan. Other candidates include Jaime Alguersuari, Charles Pic and Esteban Gutierrez.
Kaltenborn said she hoped that positives did come out of Kobayashi's podium though that could boost his chances of staying there.
"I think it is important for him to show this kind of result for his own standing and his own career, because if you look at the facts, he has had a tough season. You have to be careful in judging him as a driver because, if you look at most of the podiums we had, he had the better qualifying [at those races].
"Through that, he has certain restraints on the tires, on the strategy, and with the other car you can simply take a risk, and the risk worked out and paid off. I think he has been unlucky this year and it was about time he started being lucky."