Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi has had his contract at Sauber renewed for the 2011 season, the Swiss Formula One team said on Tuesday.

Kobayashi, 23, is currently competing in his debut season in the sport. After a difficult start with six retirements in the first eight races and just one championship points he has finished the following five events for now 21 points, with a sixth-place finish at the British Grand Prix his best result.

“We enjoy having our rookie as part of the team — both as a driver and a person. We never had any doubts about working with him again in 2011,” said team boss Peter Sauber.

“Kamui has definitely fulfilled our expectations in terms of his speed and fighting spirit. The experience he has built up over his first full season in Formula One will certainly stand him in good stead for 2011.” Kobayashi said: “We had a very difficult start to the season, but we’ve worked together to pull ourselves out of that situation. I feel very much at home in Peter Sauber’s team and am very pleased we’ll be working together again in 2011.”

Sauber is yet to announce whether their other driver, Pedro de la Rosa, will also be at the team next year. The 39-year-old Spanish veteran has finished in the points only once in 13 races, coming seventh in Hungary.

More In: Motorsport | Sport