Kobayashi honoured ahead of home Grand Prix

Kamui Kobayashi will enjoy his first home grand prix as a newly appointed Japanese "Sports Tourism Master" after a ceremony in Tokyo.

The Japanese have always been passionate about F1. When Honda and Ayrton Senna were at the peak of their powers, the Japanese Grand Prix was often oversubscribed many times over, with a lottery held to decide ticket allocation. This year, Kobayashi has revealed that a Kamui fans' corner has been set up between turns two and three, with 2000 seats sold out for some time.

Last year Kobayashi drove Friday practice in Suzuka as stand-in for Timo Glock at Toyota but this will be his first Japanese Grand Prix as a fully-fledged race driver. "We all think the circuit should suit our car pretty well," says the man whose last race in his home country was seven years ago, as a 17-year-old in a Formula Toyota race on the Suzuka short track."

Kobayashi pursued his career in Europe after arriving in Vicenza, Italy. "I didn't even speak English and everything was completely different. But a lot of fun!" he says, dismissing the notion that it was hard to progress in a strange environment without direct parental involvement.

"That seems to be very difficult to understand for Europeans," he says, "but for Japanese it's not that unusual to leave your family and go to work elsewhere. Even when I was doing things in Japan I rarely met my family. Most times I went to Tokyo and they still live in Amagasaki, which is close to Osaka and quite far away from Tokyo. I always like to stay somewhere nice, but it doesn't really matter which country it is.

"I never dreamt of being an F1 driver. When I was a child I wanted to become a comedian – Amagasaki is quite popular for Japanese comedians -- but I found I wasn't talented enough! My parents weren't interested in racing at all. They still don't own a road car! I bought myself a car twice, but both times my father sold it. He runs a Sushi delivery shop in Amagasaki. Most likely if I hadn't been quick in karting I would have become a sushi chef, but I hate raw fish..."

Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter

Print News Story