Fans' appeal fund to keep Kamui Kobayashi in F1 is nudging the £1 million mark

Japanese favourite currently without a seat for 2013

By Mike Wise.   Last Updated: 07/12/12 4:19pm

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An appeal fund set up by fans of Kamui Kobayashi to keep the Japanese in Formula 1 is nudging the one million-pound mark.

The 'Kamui Support' website was established earlier this month in support of Kobayashi, whose seat at Sauber has been taken by Esteban Gutierrez.

Sauber's decision to take on Gutierrez to partner Nico Hulkenberg in 2013 was announced last week and came despite Kobayashi's podium finish in his home race at Suzuka last month.

The 26-year-old ended the season 12th in the Drivers' Championship, six points behind team-mate Sergio Perez. The Mexican, who like countryman Gutierrez is backed by the country's Telmex communications company, is joining McLaren next season.

As of Friday, fans had pledged ¥127,863,961 (almost £964,000).

Speaking before his Sauber swansong in Brazil last weekend - a race in which he finished ninth - Kobayashi said he was in talks with another F1 team.

"I hope. I'm talking with another team. If I don't talk then I'm retired - just like that. It's no surprise. Sauber announced another driver and so I talk to another team. This is normal," he said.

"I'm working very hard to get sponsors. Hopefully time is not too late."

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