Kobayashi is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, Japanese drivers of all time. Starting at 9 years of age, he was successful at a national level and was signed by the Toyota Driver Development Program. He joined PREMA at the start of his single-seater career in 2004 and won a double Italian and Eurocup Formula Renault title in 2005. He later moved to Formula 3 racing and then to GP2, starting testing duties at Toyota. He only raced twice for the team before its demise which led him to three seasons at Sauber. Kobayashi made his first foray in endurance racing in 2013 and soon joined Toyota's new-for-2016 endurance program. He won FIA WEC twice and eventually captured an elusive Le Mans 24 Hours win in 2021. He also won the 24 Hours of Daytona twice. He will continue to race for Toyota in 2022, becoming Team Principal at Gazoo Racing.