sport

Kobayashi 'not disappointed'

Kamui Kobayashi insists he is not disappointed by Sauber's decision to replace him next season and says he is talking to another team about the possibility of a drive.

The Japanese was left high and dry on Friday when the Swiss team finally announced that Esteban Gutierrez would partner Nico Hulkenberg in 2013. Kobayashi's departure had long been anticipated, even though he claimed a podium finish in his home race last month.

Since that result at Suzuka, attentions have increasingly turned to Kobayashi's efforts to secure sponsorship.

The 26-year-old has consistently said that attracting backing is proving difficult. Speaking on Saturday after qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, Kobayashi had nothing concrete to add but insisted the process of securing a drive had at least moved on a step.

He mentioned a "paper" - a reference, perhaps, to an agreement with a sponsor that would be conditional upon him landing a race seat.

Kobayashi added that, in failing to actively look elsewhere, he could consider himself "retired" from the sport.

"I hope. I'm talking with another team. If I don't talk then I'm retired - just like that. It's no surprise. Sauber announced another driver and so I talk to another team. This is normal," he said.

"After I get this paper, I can work with another team. It's too early to say for me but I've been trying.

"I'm working very hard to get sponsors. Hopefully time is not too late."

Kobayashi said he was "not thinking about" racing in other categories and also gave short shrift to the idea of becoming an F1 reserve driver.

Of Le Mans, he said: "I'm not really much interested about that. I want to be in Formula 1. I think I can still be more successful if I have a chance. I'll try and we'll see.

"It's not easy to wait around for 20 races, you know?" added Kobayashi, when it was suggested he might step back into the sort of role he used to perform at Toyota.

"The travelling is getting really tiring and if you stay here without driving, it's like I'm in jail." In the meantime, Kobayashi's Sauber swansong comes in Sunday's race at Interlagos.

He lines up 14th on the grid, directly behind team-mate Sergio Perez as they attempt to snatch fifth place in the Constructors' Championship from Mercedes.

Rain is forecast and Kobayashi said such conditions represent the team's best hope of overhauling the manufacturer.

"If it's dry, we've had a very difficult week. But I think if it's wet, nobody knows. Anything can happen," he said.

"I believe that we have more of a chance because we need 13 points to catch Mercedes; with a normal race, it's not very easy."

After that comes a harder task for Kobayashi: securing his F1 future.

Clearly proud to be a paid driver, he has one last race in that bracket before joining a list of hopefuls for whom money talks as loudly as talent.

"No, no, I'm not disappointed. I know I need a sponsor - one that's got money - to run with a team, but there's not always time in Formula 1," he added.

"I just want to work with this team and I just want to say goodbye. This is a job, you know, it's not a relationship that's personal. I'm here for the job.

"I'm getting money from the team, so I need to work in the proper way until the last. This is my job.

"I'll try to do my best tomorrow and we'll see what we can do for the future."