Sadly, after thousands and thousand of pounds were donated to the Kamui Kobayashi fund-raising website to secure his future in Formula One, the Japanese drivers has thrown in the towel for 2013. Kobayashi became a fan favorite in the paddock and it's little wonder when you're the best driver to come out of Japan replete with a smile and good nature that adds to your pace and merit for being on the grid.
Kobayashi stormed to fame when he entered the series in 2009 and became known for his daring passes on back-markers and champions alike. He deserved his seat at Sauber on merit alone and it's a shame that the Japanese apetite for Formula One investment waned just as his career peeked. Kobayashi says that a few companies in Japan had offered to raise a total of $6 million but that time ran out and seats were already taken. Kamui said:
"Unfortunately, the time was still short and I am not able to secure the seat with competitive F1 team for 2013.
"I have to admit that it is very sad and feel sorry for fans and Japanese companies who supported me. But I am still confident to make it happen in 2014.
"I would like to stop the donations for now and while I will save all the money for 2014, I start to look what is the best option for 2013 and also 2014. My main priority is to secure the competitive F1 seat in 2014."
The challenge may now be a reserve role with a larger team. It's not a death sentence to sit a year out and remain attached in a reserve role for a team. Nico Hulkenberg did just that at force India and he's one of the driver now taking a seat at Sauber for 2013. Jerome D'Ambrosio is also employed as a reserve driver for Lotus F1 and when Romain Grosjean was banned for a race, D'Ambrosio got his chance to drive again with a impressive performance.
Kobayashi is one of the best drivers Japan has ever given Formula One and it would be a shame to see his talent wasted. Let us hope a Japanese company can find the resources to put serious backing behind their best driver to date.
Follow Todd McCandless on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@formula1blog