Kamui Kobayashi will return to Formula 1 in 2014, having been announced as one of Caterham F1‘s drivers for the upcoming season.
Kobayashi, who drove a Ferrari in the 2013 World Endurance Championship after failing to secure an F1 drive, will race alongside Marcus Ericsson, while Robin Frijns and Alexander Rossi will serve as the team’s Reserve Drivers. Rossi will also drive for Caterham Racing in GP2 alongside Rio Haryanto.
“It’s a great feeling to be back as an F1 race driver and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham F1 Team,” said Kobayashi. “We’ve been talking since last year about driving for the team for 2014 and beyond and throughout all our discussions I’ve been very impressed with where they want to take the team, and how much investment has been made already to help them achieve their goals. For me, it’s a great honour 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.”
The Caterham F1 line-up forms a dynamic pairing of the popular Kobayashi and rookie Ericsson, who makes the step up from GP2 in 2013, the second year running that Caterham have given a top GP2 driver the opportunity to race at the top level of motorsport.
“This is a very proud day for me and everyone who has helped make my F1 dream come true,” enthused Ericsson. “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. 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.”
Meanwhile, Rossi is expected to form a strong challenge to the 2014 GP2 championship, having been the best rookie in 2013. He will combine his GP2 commitments with a Reserve Driver role for Caterham F1 at all non-GP2 rounds of the championship. Haryanto joins Caterham after progressing as a driver in the series since 2012, giving Caterham one of the strongest lineups in the field.
“I am pleased to be back with Caterham Racing for 2014 fighting for a GP2 Championship,” said Rossi. “My 2013 program had some changes which meant I missed the pre-season tests and a couple of the early GP2 races, however, throughout the season the team and I made some big progress and by Abu Dhabi we were definitely one of the cars to beat. This continued in the post-season tests and I’m quite confident about the pace in 2014.”
Caterham also used the unveiling of its 2014 driver lineup as an opportunity to showcase the developments the team has made at its Leafield Technical Centre ahead of major rule changes for the upcoming season.
“There are numerous changes to the rules for 2014 and we wanted to bring people into our factory to help explain how we’ve tackled those rule changes, and demonstrate how the investments made by our shareholders and our partners are helping us prepare for the most important season in our still-young life,” said Team Principle, Cyril Abiteboul.
“It has been a good day at Leafield and I am pleased to see how determined everyone is to make progress this year,” concluded Caterham Group Co-Chairman, Tony Fernandes. “2013 was a tough season – we knew it would be hard and we took a gamble which, ultimately, did not pay off, but nobody’s heads dropped, every single person in the team is working harder than ever to come back fighting, and I believe that this year we have our best ever chance of surprising a few people.”