TOKYO, Dec 18, 2012 (AFP) - Japanese Formula One driver Kamui Kobayashi said on Tuesday he would sit out the 2013 season after being unable to find a team to drive for.
The 26-year-old had been part of the Sauber-Ferrari team since the 2010 season, but left after being replaced by Esteban Gutierrez. Sauber also got the services of a growing Nico Hülkenberg who moved from Force India to take Sergio Perez spot, who in turn went to McLaren.
"I was in the position to bring a budget of eight million euros ($10.5 million) at least," he wrote on his official website.
"Unfortunately, the time was still short and I am not able to secure the seat with a competitive F1 team for 2013. I have to admit that it is very sad and I feel sorry for the fans and Japanese companies who supported me. But I am still confident to make it happen in 2014". Kobayashi said.
Kobayashi had collected around eight million euros in corporate sponsorship and donations from fans as he sought to buy his way into a team.
"I would like to stop the donations for now and while I will save all the money for 2014, I will start to look at what is the best option for 2013 and also 2014. My main priority is to secure the competitive F1 seat in 2014." The Japanese driver added.
He said he would now stop soliciting donations and turn his attention to securing a seat in 2014.
"I have no interest in racing in any other category," added Kobayashi, who became only the third Japanese driver to mount a Formula One podium when he finished third at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka in October.
Formula One does not have a large following in Japan, and the races are not shown live on television.