Just as pre-season testing is about to begin at Jerez, Spain next week, the Formula 1 team, Caterham, finally announced the drivers who would compete for them in the 2014 season. According to a press release on Tuesday, January 21, from Caterham, Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi will return to Formula 1 after a year's absence to race for the British team. He joins rookie, Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson putting on the green for the team.
About the pairing, Caterham Team Principal and CEO, Cyril Abiteboul said, "I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bring Kamui back. He is a very popular driver and it’s very good for the whole team we’ve been able to attract such an exciting driver to join us at a critical point in our development. His pace speaks for itself, and his extensive experience of developing cars, particularly in his years with Toyota, will be incredibly important for us as we tackle one of the most challenging seasons F1 has ever embarked upon."
He added, "Alongside him is Marcus who will be racing in his debut F1 season in 2014, but as a driver who has prepared perfectly for the step up to F1 with his graduation through the ranks. He started his single-seat career by winning Formula BMW UK in 2007 and rose through the ranks to GP2 where, last year, he won in Germany, scored two poles, three fastest laps and five podiums. He’s physically and mentally prepared for what lies ahead, and he will have all the support we can give him across the team to help him fulfill his obvious potential in Formula One."
About his seat with Caterham, Kobayashi said, "It’s a great feeling to be back as an F1 race driver and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham F1 Team. For me, it’s a great honor that the team hired me based on the value I bring in racing terms, and the experience I have and I am so happy that I am able to make this announcement today. I will do my very best to lead the team and work as hard as possible to achieve our targets."
He added that he is ready to get to work, "I can’t wait to start work again, and one of the benefits to making this announcement so close to the start of the tests means I only have a few days to wait to get back on track! Before then I’ll be at the factory as much as possible, working in the simulator and with everyone there to prepare as much as we can for the tests in Jerez and Bahrain. Physically and mentally I’m fully prepared, now I just want to get back to work!"
It is a rare circumstance when a driver gets his first shot at Formula 1. Marcus Ericsson had this to say about the opportunity he's been given for 2014: "This is a very proud day for me and everyone who has helped make my F1 dream come true. I’ll be making the step up to F1 with Caterham F1 Team in 2014 and I’m already excited about the season ahead, and the first race in Australia in particular."
He continued: "It’s obviously great for Sweden that we’ll have a Swedish driver back on the grid in 2014. This is what I’ve been working for since I first started racing karts back when I was nine years old, and now I know I’m ready for the step up to F1. Caterham is a young team and together we can take on the challenges the new rules will present in 2014 - learning together and continuing to develop as the season progresses."
Alexander Rossi keeps his seat with Caterham as reserve driver and also drives Caterham's hopes in the GP2 championship. Robin Frijns will be another reserve driver for the team; he will be on call for F1 on the weekends that American Rossi is occupied competing in GP2.
Caterham is the last team to announce its drivers for the 2014 season.
The 2014 FIA Formula 1 World Championship begins on March 16 with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie Ann Kirk, Ph.D. has been credentialed by the FIA to write about Formula 1. With a historic racer from upstate New York, she is working on a book about racers and racing. Check out blog at Motor Sport Muse.