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Kamui Kobayashi: Asia's Brightest Star, Or Just Another One-Hit Wonder?

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 01:  Kamui Kobayashi of Japan and Toyota drives during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 1, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Chris RowlandsCorrespondent INovember 1, 2009

Due to Timo Glock's cracked vertebrae as a result of his horror crash at Suzuka, we got to see rookie Kamui Kobayashi take his place for the final two Grand Prix of the season.

At Brazil he finished a promising ninth position, after defending from a rampaging Button for several laps. For pretty much everyone, this was our first experience of his rather aggressive driving style—one rather reminiscent of a certain Takuma Sato.

Unlike Sato, Kobayashi did not crash, he in fact avoided most of the carnage and possibly stopped Button finishing any higher than he actually did. While this was a promising performance, most people ignored him for the much bigger news—a new World Champion is generally regarded as more important than a mildly promising debut for a mid-finishing driver.

Glock was not risked for Abu-Dhabi, so we got a second look at the 23 year-old Japanese hopeful. He qualified a respectable 12th place.

During the race Kobayashi turned out to be the fastest of the one-stopping drivers. At one point he was 3rd position, and he was driving some of the fastest laps out of anyone. When he again encountered Button, he pulled off an overtaking manoeuvre that seemed more than slightly out of place against the newly-crowned World Champion.

His aggressive style was a joy to behold, while it lacked the finesse of Button, or the dogged ability of Alonso to get stellar performances from an average car; it got the lap times, and he never really looked likely to crash out; making him much better than Takuma Sato already!

Eventually Kobayashi finished in 6th position, his overall pace and victory over his much more experienced teammate Jarno Trulli has all but guaranteed him a place in the Toyota lineup for 2010. After all, Toyota developed him, and he would be a great addition to a team wanting some home-grown talent.

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