There is an interesting atmosphere in Paris which I really like because of the big businessmen, the artists, the designers, all these important people who are there and give the city its character,” he says. “It is a fascinating city to spend time in.”

Kamui Kobayashi has progressed through the single-seater ranks in Europe after making a name for himself as a star of the future in Japanese junior racing.

With TDP support, Kamui moved to Europe in 2004 and spent two years in the Formula Renault Eurocup and Italian Formula Renault Championship, winning both crowns in 2005 – a title double only achieved previously by one other driver.

At the beginning of my career I was not thinking about Formula 1 – I just wanted to win each race. I never thought much about the future because it was far away from my situation at the time. Winning each race was my target but when I started racing single-seaters in Europe I started to dream of Formula 1. You have to work hard and be very determined to become a Formula 1 driver.

From there he stepped up to Formula 3, the traditional breeding ground for future Formula 1 stars, and, in 2006, after a promising first season at that level, Panasonic Toyota Racing offered him the chance to join its winter tests.

That experience certainly made an impression on Kamui Kobayashi, who says of a F1 car: “Everything is just more extreme and it is a special experience to drive a Formula 1 car. It is difficult to drive at the limit of the car, at the limit of grip and at the limit of your concentration – it requires a high level of performance.”

In all he completed three days behind the wheel at Barcelona and Jerez before returning to the Euro Series where he proved to be a formidable competitor, showing speed and commitment. At Magny-Cours, that was plain for the whole Formula 1 paddock to see when he pulled off a superb win in the French Grand Prix support race.

He finished fourth in the championship but had shown enough potential to be offered the third driver role with Panasonic Toyota Racing for 2008.