Kobayashi: Ferrari WEC stint should help with LMP1 debut

Toyota LMP1 driver Kamui Kobayashi reckons his previous stint in the World Endurance Championship with the AF Corse Ferrari squad could prove invaluable for his comeback season in 2016.

After losing his Sauber Formula 1 seat, Kobayashi shared a Ferrari 458 Italia with Toni Vilander during the 2013 season.

The duo finished seventh in the GT drivers' standings with four class podiums, and placed fifth in class at that year's Le Mans 24 Hours, with Olivier Beretta serving as third driver.

Having now joined Toyota's LMP1 roster in place of the retired Alexander Wurz over the winter, Kobayashi is convinced that his Ferrari experience will help him in his first year back in the WEC.

“I know how a GT driver feels, so I know how I need to move," he told Motorsport.com at the WEC Prologue in France. “And I know almost all the tracks, except for Mexico, which is not a too big of a disadvantage for me."

Kobayashi even went as far as saying that WEC feels more familiar to him than the Japanese Super Formula series, in which he will also continue to compete in 2016.

“I think racing in Japan is still more difficult for me, as I’m still quite weak on the Japanese track experience and how they work there.

"Here is more like home compared to racing in Japan.”

Could be tough to match Porsche

Kobayashi thinks it’s too early to make any predictions about what Toyota can achieve with the TS050 Hybrid prototype in 2016.

“It’s difficult to say in this category, I have to say," added the ex-Caterham driver. "Like last year with Porsche, they improved like five seconds or something after one year.

“[The car] may be good. But if [Porsche] improve, and they improve another five seconds, it’s going to be difficult.

"Let’s see how this test goes. I think we have made good progress from last year, but we don’t know yet if it’s enough or not.”

Nonetheless, Kobayashi hopes for a return to form at Toyota: “With the new car and the new powertrain, we need to be able to be strong on every track.

"That’s why we made a new car. And that is what I wish [for], but you never know, this is racing.”

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About this article
Series WEC
Drivers Kamui Kobayashi
Article type Breaking news