NOVEMBER 16, 2007
Kobayashi becomes Toyota test driver
Toyota Motorsport has announced that Japan's Kamui Kobayashi, a product of the Toyota Young Drivers Programme, is to be the team's third driver in 2008. The 21-year-old has been linked with Toyota since 2001. Kobayashi moved to Europe in 2004 and spent two years in Formula Renault, winning the Italian and Eurocup titles in 2005, and then moved into Formula 3 in 2006 with the ASM team, partnering Paul di Resta, Giedo van der Garde and Sebastian Vettel. He managed only three podium finishes. A second year in the series resulted in one victory and fourth in the championship.
"He tested the car last winter and showed he had the potential to drive in Formula 1 in the future," said Toyota team boss George Yamashina. "Now, after another season gaining experience in Formula 3, we believe he is ready for the challenge of Formula 1."
The team has yet to make any announcement about the identity of the second driver. The drive was to have gone to Timo Glock but the move was blocked by the Contract Recognition Board because Glock had a binding BMW contract and the recent talk has suggested that the seat will go to Heikki Kovalainen. However, it will not be clear what will happen with the drives at Renault, McLaren and Toyota until Fernando Alonso decides what he wants to do with his career. There has been much rumouring about Renault but it remains to be seen if a deal can be done. Red Bull Racing says it is not in the game any more which means that Toyota could be the destination for Fernando.
All the other major teams appear to have drivers contracted for 2008.