The world of F1 is ‘obviously’ moving on without Kamui Kobayashi, according to experienced Japanese journalist Kunio Shibata.
Kobayashi, who according to 1980 world champion Alan Jones was Japan’s best ever F1 driver, lost his Sauber race seat for 2013.
‘Kimi is unseen by the public, and not in the newspapers,’ Shibata, who writes for GPX magazine, said.
‘Even in December his management firmly believed they would find Kamui a test place in February, but obviously nothing came. The Jerez test took place without him.’
So could the exciting and popular 26-year-old find a place elsewhere in the motor racing world?
‘I know nothing about that,’ Shibata admitted. ‘Kamui wanted to put every (effort) behind F1 and was supposedly negotiating with Force India.
‘But if it had come to something, he would have been here (at Jerez) in the car.
‘It worries me,’ Shibata said. ‘The fans fear that once Kamui goes outside F1, then he will not get back in. I share this concern.
‘The history of grand prix racing has demonstrated repeatedly how difficult it is to make a comeback.’
Many F1 personalities have lamented the ever-growing power of F1 ‘pay drivers’, and the effect it is having on highly rated racers like Kobayashi and the similarly-ousted Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock.
‘Compare last year with this year,’ former F1 driver Olivier Panis – who now manages the Caterham driver Charles Pic – told f1news.ru.
‘F1 has lost seven or eight drivers, including a guy who was on the podium very recently.
‘This is a difficult sport, and not everything depends on the driver,’ Panis told Russia’s f1news.ru. ‘It’s sad, but that’s reality.’