Career Summary:

Kamui Kobayashi

  • September 13, 1986
  • 37
  • Japan
  • Fia World Endurance Championship
  • 314
  • Toyota Gazoo Racing
  • 29
  • 79
  • 25
  • 28
  • 9.24%
  • 25.16%

Kamui Kobayashi is a racing driver from Japan who is best-known as a former Formula 1 driver. He recorded 75 F1 starts between 2009 and 2014 with three different teams - Toyota, Sauber and Caterham, not scoring notable results, just one podium.

In recent years, he's most active in sports car racing, including several participations at 24 hours of Le Mans, finishing best in the second place three times (in 2016, 2018 and 2019). In 2017, he broke the all-time lap record at Circuit de la Sarthe in a Toyota TS050 Hybrid.

In January 2019, Kobayashi has won Daytona 24 Hours in his first attempt, sharing Wayne Taylor Racing's Cadillac DPi with Fernando Alonso, Renger van der Zande and Jordan Taylor. A year later, he repeated a victory with the same car, sharing it with Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon.

Kamui Kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi

Successful period in karting

Born in Amagasaki at Honshu island, Kamui made his first steps in racing as a 9-year-old, competing in the various karting championships in Japan. On his debut, he finished 3rd at SL Takarazuka Cadet Tournament, while in 1997 Kobayashi won SL All Japan Cadet Championship. He stayed in karting until 2001 and won many titles, including All Japan S Stock D class Tournament in 1999 and in 2000, he won All Japan Junior Kart Championship and Suzuka Kart Championship.

Kamui Kobayashi 2016 grand prix hamilton 2014 abu dhabi driver

Kamui Kobayashi won numerous titles in karting

In 2001, after winning ICA All Japan Kart Championship title, Kamui earned Toyota Racing School scholarship and in 2002, he debuted in Formula Toyota Series. The year of 2003 was the first full-time season for Kobayashi in the series and he did very well, finishing 2nd, with two wins out of 10 races.

Departure to Europe

Japanese driver moved to Europe in 2004 and as a member of Prema Powerteam, he competed in three Formula Renault 2000 championships. He appeared as a guest in German and Netherlands championship and he also appeared at the Italian championship. Kamui finished 7th overall after he has won 2 out of 17 races.

Kamui Kobayashi Formula 2016 grand prix 2014 abu dhabi race driver

Kamui Kobayashi during his time in Formula Renault Italy

Kobayashi won two titles in 2005

In 2005, Kobayashi won two titles driving for Prema Powerteam. In Formula Renault Eurocup he won 6 out 16 races and took the title eight points ahead of Michael Ammermuller while in the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 he missed two races, but still managed to grab the crown. Kobayashi won 6 out of 15 races and again left Ammermuller as a runner-up, this time by a margin of 24 points.

Kamui Kobayashi

The season of 2005 was very successful for the Japanese driver

Toyota F1 team reserve driver

Formula 3 Euro Series was the next stop for the Japanese. Driving for ART Grand Prix team, Kamui finished 8th in the standings, having 3 podium finishes from 18 starts. He stayed in the series for another year and finished 4th in 2007, with one win and a total of seven podium finishes. Before the end of the year, Kobayashi was named as Toyota Formula 1 team's reserve driver and a test driver for 2008 and 2009, replacing Franck Montagny.

GP2 Series and Formula 1 debut

Driving for DAMS, Kobayashi became the GP2 Asia Series champion for the 2008/2009 season scoring two wins out of 11 races, but in the GP2 Series, the results weren’t so good. In 2008, he finished 6th in the standings and in 2009 Kamui dropped to the 16th place.

Kamui Kobayashi Toyota Formula

Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota

However, later in 2009 Kobayashi unexpectedly got a chance in Formula 1, replacing injured Timo Glock. Kamui debuted at the Brazilian Grand Prix in which he took the 9th place while in Abu Dhabi Kobayashi earned his first points finishing 6th.

Solid results scored during three years with Sauber

Toyota withdrew from Formula 1 in 2010 and Kobayashi had to find a new engagement. He signed with Sauber with which he spent three years. The beginning wasn’t so good. He retired from five out of six races. Later in the season, the results started to improve and Kobayashi at the end was 12th in the standings with 32 points.

He managed to pick points in six consecutive Grand Prix races with a 5th position in Monaco as a highlight.

Kamui Kobayashi formula 2016 world grand prix drivers Singapore 2014

Kobayashi scored his only F1 podium finish in 2012 Japanese Grand Prix

For the third time in a row, Kobayashi finished 12th in the Drivers’ Championship in 2012. The year was marked with many ups and downs but Kamui was still very happy because he had three Top 5 finishes and for the first and last time in his F1 career Kobayashi scored a podium finish, taking the 3rd place in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Switch to the endurance racing

In 2013, Sauber decided to let Kobayashi go. Still, he had a lucrative sponsorship backing and he could easily find a new team but he opted to wait until 2014. In the meantime, Kamui debuted at the FIA World Endurance Championship, driving AF Corse’s Ferrari in LMG TE Pr class alongside Toni Vilander and Olivier Beretta. He was also a test driver for Ferrari F1 team.

Kamui Kobayashi Ferrrari 2016 world grand prix drivers Singapore 2014

Kamui Kobayashi, the first Asian driver in Ferrari

The results in the WEC were pretty good. Kobayashi became the first Asian driver who joined any of Scuderia Ferrari teams, had four podium finishes with his team and took the 7th place overall. On his debut in 24 Hours of Le Mans, Kobayashi finished 21st overall and 5th in the class in the race that was held during very bad weather.

2014  - return to Formula 1 with Caterham

In January 2014, Kobayashi signed with Caterham Formula 1 team but that season was definitely  one to forget. Kobayashi drove a totally uncompetitive car and was never close to Top 10 and was closed in some huge accidents on the track. Later in the season, he was replaced by a couple of racers. Shortly after that, he left F1 Championship because he was unhappy with the team.

Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham F1 2014

Kamui as Caterham driver

Super Formula debut in 2015

After leaving Formula One, Kobayashi returned home to compete in Japanese Super Formula. He was driving the #8 Toyota for Kygnus Sunoco Team Le Mans. Kamui achieved two podium finishes that year and finished the season sixth in the points.

He stayed with the team in the 2016 Super Formula season. Results were disapponting, he scored one single point in nine races to finish 17th in the final standings.

2016 24 hours of Le Mans, podium

Kamui at 2016 Le Mans podium

2016 Le Mans podium with Toyota

In 2016, Kobayashi was confirmed as a member of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s team in the FIA World Endurance Championship.The Japanese driver was teamed with Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin in the #6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.

They were second overall at Le Mans in a dramatic finish when the leading car (#5 Toyota) stopped on the last lap. Later in the season, they added four more WEC podiums and a victory at Fuji to finish third in the final LMP1 standings.

2017, 24h Le Mans, qualifying, Toyota, Kamui Kobayashi

In 2017, Kamui became the fastest ever driver at Circuit de la Sarthe

Breaking a lap record at Circuit de la Sarthe

For the 2017 FIA WEC season, Kobayashi's car was renumbered to #7. Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez stayed with him, except at Le Mans, where Stephane Sarrazin replaced Lopez.

In the qualifying session for Le Mans race, Kobayashi was not only the fastest driver in the field but he also broke an all-time record. His lap time was 3:14.791, what was the fastest time ever on the current circuit (13.629km) but also the fastest time ever, with average speed of 251.882 km/h. In the race, the #7 Toyota retired after 154 laps.

Kamui Kobayashi at Le Mans podium in June 2018

Kamui Kobayashi at Le Mans podium in June 2018

Competing in three championships in 2018

In 2017, Kamui continued to compete in the Super Formula, switching to KCMG team. Scoring one podium, he finished seventh in the points. In 2018, he stayed with KCMG in the Super Formula but also entered Super GT Series as full-time driver of Team SARD's #39 Lexus LC500. Sharing a car with Heikki Kovalainen, he won a race at Chang International Circuit.

Kamui also stayed with Toyota Gazoo Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, sharing the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid with Conway and Lopez. He was second at Le Mans for the second time in a career.

2019 Daytona 24 Hours winners

Kamui and his teammates are celebrating victory at Daytona 24 Hours

Two victories in two attempts at Daytona 24 Hours

In January 2019, Kobayashi and his Toyota teammate Fernando Alonso joined Wayne Taylor Racing at Daytona 24 Hours, winning the race in the #10 Cadillac DPi, sharing a car with Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande.

Later in 2019, he won two FIA WEC races, at Fuji and Shanghai, and finished second at Le Mans for the third time in a career. He ended the season second in the points.

In January 2020, he repeated a victory at Daytona 24 Hours with the same car, sharing the #10 Cadillac with Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon.

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing,