Kobayashi and Ericsson form all-new Caterham squad

2014 F1 season

Kamui Kobayashi, Robin Frijns, Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, 2014Caterham have completely changed their race driver line-up for the second year in a row.

The team has announced Kamui Kobayashi will return to Formula One with them after a one-year absence.

He will be joined by rookie Marcus Ericsson, who is set to become Sweden’s first driver to start a round of the world championship since Stefan Johansson in 1991.

Caterham also announced Alexander Rossi will continue as test driver alongside new hire Robin Frijns.

“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,” said Kobayashi. “I will do my very best to lead the team and work as hard as possible to achieve our targets.”

Kobayashi made his F1 debut with Toyota in 2009, then spent the next three seasons at Sauber. After being dropped by the team at the end of 2012 he raised money from fans to continue his Formula One career.

“I want to give special thanks to all the fans who have made donations to Kamui Support,” said Kobayashi. “Their donations and gestures gave me extra strength to come back fighting and I am very pleased that the money they raised not only helped me but will now go to helping Caterham progress this year.”

“Every single one of you who helped with Kamui Support will race with me in 2014 and that makes me very proud.”

Despite raising ??8 million from fans and sponsors towards a 2013 seat, Kobayashi said he was unable to secure a place with a competitive team before the start of last season. “My main priority is to secure the competitive F1 seat in 2014,” he said at the time.

Kobayashi spent last year driving for Ferrari’s AF Corse GT racing team in the World Endurance Championship. He also drove one of the team’s F1 cars at Fiorano and in a demonstration run at Moscow which was interrupted by a minor crash.

“For me, it?s a chance to start again with a new team but one that?s serious about progressing,” Kobayashi added, “and for the team, 2014 is the first chance to show what they can do with all the people and infrastructure they?ve built up in Leafield since moving there in 2012″.

Ericsson will graduate to Formula One five years after winning the Japanese Formula Three championship. He has raced in GP2 since then, winning three times in 84 starts.

The 23-year-old had his best chance to win the championship last year after slotting into the DAMS drive vacated by previous champions Romain Grosjean and Davide Valsecchi. But he endured a difficult first half of the season and didn’t score a point in a race until his tenth start, after which he raised his game and ended the year fifth, his best result so far in the championship.

“It?s obviously great for Sweden that we?ll have a Swedish driver back on the grid in 2014,” said Ericsson. “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.”

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171 comments on Kobayashi and Ericsson form all-new Caterham squad

  1. wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 21st January 2014, 11:45

    So, for the second straight year, the guy who finished 6th in GP2 gets a chance at Caterham in F1.

    All the best, Marcus, go for it, show us your pre-GP2 form…

  2. LeJimster said on 21st January 2014, 12:01

    I’m really happy Kamui is back, even though he might be fighting at the back of the grid this season. He deserved better than being shown the door out of F1. My hope is Caterham can finally build a car that is able to compete with the midfield this season, then we will see some action!

    To all the Kamui detractors out there, he isn’t overrated and fine you might not like him, if anything he is underrated and ignored compared to Western drivers. British media however have a soft spot for Caterham, so I hope to see much more of Kamui in the future.

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st January 2014, 12:13

    Fun fact: there are now thirteen different nationalities represented on the grid. We have drivers from Sweden, Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Brazil and Spain.

    If we include teams, that number goes up to eighteen, with teams from Malaysia, India, Switzerland, Italy and Austria present.

    When was the last time we had a grid this diverse?

  4. OllieJ (@olliej) said on 21st January 2014, 12:18

    Best news ever. After months of misery and negativity finally something positive has happened in Formula 1

  5. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 21st January 2014, 12:28

    Let me make a bold prediction: Ericsson will outqualify Kobayashi over the season. I think Marcus has the speed, even if his years in GP2 have been disappointing. But then, GP2 is a series where many things can happen to prevent a driver from realizing his potential: too little track time, too few tyres, artificially degrading tyres, reverse-grid silliness which means misfortune on Saturday results in a no-score on Sunday as well; and of course the possibility of being taken out by a loose cannon with more financial backing than talent.

  6. Deej92 (@deej92) said on 21st January 2014, 12:34

    I never expected to see Kobayashi return to F1 and I’m not greatly excited to see him back. I think he is given more praise than is perhaps warranted. However, compared to either of last year’s drivers, it’s quite nice to see Caterham opt for him instead. I doubt he’ll ever be with a midfield team again, but Caterham may be able to give him the opportunity to get a few points here and there if they’ve made vast improvements or get bit of luck.

    I don’t know much about Ericsson but it’s a good opportunity for him to learn from Kobayashi’s experience and the B2B opportunities he brings Caterham mean I’ve got no qualms with them trying to make the most of that 2nd seat. And it means F1 will have quite a Scandinavian feel it to: 2 Finns, 2 Danes (Sorensen possible Lotus test driver), and a Swede!

    It seems like a wise test driver line-up as well. Kovalainen isn’t required now that they have an experienced race driver, which they didn’t have last year, and Frijns will get some useful experience with some FP1s. Rossi will just do the occasional ones like every year.

    Oh, and Eddie got one wrong!

  7. Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 21st January 2014, 13:14

    Nice to see Kamui back in F1. The podium in Japan still gives me chills. Don’t know too much about Ericcson but saw him take a few pole positions in GP2, but its nice to see a young driver get a young driver a spot in F1. Its a big year for the Caterham team, all the talk and the promises in 2010. they haven’t progressed as much as they were predicting and talking about and yet they haven’t moved up the grid at all. Doesn’t help that Fernandes is pumping millions and millions into a QOR side that are in the Championship.

  8. Yes yes yeeeeees! Ka-mu-i! Ka-mu-i!
    Definitely buying some Caterham merchandise at Australian GP this year! ;D

  9. iFuel (@ifuel) said on 21st January 2014, 13:35

    On a side note, 2014 Caterham website, youtube channel dropped the yellow and are now sporting a BRG/light green/white union-jack theme… Hopefully this translates into a new livery!

  10. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 21st January 2014, 13:40

    I must say that I’m rather pleased with today’s news for the following reasons…

    1. We see the return of a thoroughly good racing driver in KK, and Caterham obviously haven’t been making any knee-jerk judgments on Kamui based on his lackluster WEC GTE performances.
    2. F1 has not completely lost patience with GP2 after the disappointments of Chilton and Gutierrez last year. Ericsson, whilst not spectacular or that consistent, will certainly do a better job than both of them in my opinion, as he has a violent turn of speed, as he demonstrated in GP2 qualifying in Barcelona this year.
    3. Di Resta has another chance to prove just what a class act he is this year by going up against easily the finest collection of drivers outside F1 in the DTM. If he serves well against genuinely brilliant racing drivers like Rockenfeller, Spengler, Paffet and Farfus, as well as young guns like Da Costa and Wittmann, then I’m sure he will be well placed for another shot at F1 in 2015.
    4. WOHOOOOO! F1 HAS NOT FORGOTTEN ROBIN FRIJNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With the fabulous young Dutchman in a Caterham reserve role the F1 seat he so desperately deserves may not just be a pipe dream after all.

    However, we must spare a thought today for the “Italian bridesmaid” as I shall dub him; Davide Valsecchi. Valsecchi is seeing Caterham award a seat to the man that succeeded him at DAMS in GP2, and whilst Valsecchi won the championship, Ericsson only finished sixth. On dear, Davide, the world really is against you…

    • wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 22nd January 2014, 4:42

      @william-brierty Maybe Ericsson would have won it on his 5th try, like Valsecchi did?

      • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 22nd January 2014, 8:20

        @wsrgo – Maybe! Just for the record I’m not sympathizing with Valsecchi over this, I just think it is funny that the reserve that wasn’t a reserve gets yet another kick in the teeth as his DAMS successor gets promoted to F1.

        • wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 22nd January 2014, 18:12

          @william-brierty True, this is a less than ideal situation. On the other hand, if Ericsson doesn’t turn out to be completely hopeless, there will be huge doubts cast on the credibility of GP2 as a proper championship, given that the Swede as mega in his pre-GP2 years. Time will tell. I’m disappointed for the likes of Leimer and Bird, but who knows, they could get something too…

          • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 23rd January 2014, 8:00

            @wsrgo – Well, I would say dear chap that GP2 is already a series in decline. Its utility for the teams in the past two seasons has been a resource of pay drivers, whereas much of the talent nowadays is coming for FR3.5 and even GP3. Certainly, FR3.5 has taken its place as the main feeder series to F1, and with the now accepted ladder to F1 being FIA F3/FR2.0 – GP3 – FR3.5, the relevance of GP2 is really under threat, especially with experience currently now so paramount to a title challenge. 2014 will be a litmus test. Unless McLaren paces Vandoorne in GP2, Marciello should easily take the title, because, in terms of talent, there is nobody in his league in GP2 in 2014. However, if he doesn’t, if the DAMS-Palmer partnership wins out, then the longevity of GP2 must be questioned.

  11. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 21st January 2014, 13:47

    So how many drivers have actually left F1 for a year or more and then come back?
    I can think of Lauda, Prost, Schumacher, Sutil, Raikonnen and now Kobayashi. There must be others, who have I missed – and does (tubby) Mansell count?

  12. Excellent, that mean’s Kamui’s miserable face won’t be ruining the fun and enjoyment in the WEC paddock this coming season.

    • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 21st January 2014, 14:05

      @akojay

      Totally Unessasary.

    • Maciek (@maciek) said on 21st January 2014, 16:09

      What’s that about?

      • @maciek Loved him at Sauber, thought he was brilliant. Breath of fresh air. Silverstone last year, in the WEC paddock (where I must say all the drivers and team members are incredibly friendly and welcoming). Saw Kamui, tried to wish him good luck for the race and the season… He ignored everyone. Actively ignored actually, you could see him scurrying about when he saw there was no-one nearby. So i’m quite happy he’s going to spend the year at the back of the F1 grid.

        @full-throttle-f1 Just voicing my opinion at the latest news story. Problem?

        • Maciek (@maciek) said on 21st January 2014, 17:22

          Now see I don’t get this kind of self-importance from fans. He didn’t talk to me so now I don’t like him. How do you know he wasn’t just having a bad day?

          • Oh 3 separate days? Just to say good luck? I’m not self important, just a fan. No longer a fan though.

            Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he thought a GT Ferrari wasn’t good enough for him. Obviously so.

          • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 21st January 2014, 21:48

            @ajokay

            That GT Ferrari was awful though …

            I never met him, but he seems like a very kind guy with great overtaking skills. I’m happu he is back :)

    • Sergio Perez (@sergio-perez) said on 22nd January 2014, 16:52

      I met Kamui when he was back in Formula 3. I’ve been interviewing and shooting formula 3 drivers for more than 10 years. He was an incredible chap. i was so impressed by him on and off the track (by how “real” he was) that I asked for his autograph. He is still going places. Mark these words.

  13. Wow, talk about a revitalized squad.

    Ericsson may be the “huge bag of cash” rookie, but he does have something of a junior record (I still disagree that the 6th place man in GP2 should beat out the likes of Fabio Leimer and Sam Bird, but that’s a whole ‘nother tangent for another day), he’s the first Swede in F1 in over 20 years and he’s younger than their last two “bags of cash” by almost six years. Oh, and those “bags of cash”, Vitaly Petrov and Giedo van der Garde – they were able to bring the fight to their teammates, do not overlook Ericsson.

    Kamui Kobayashi is back. Regardless of whether or not you believe he’s a future World Champion or just a midfielder that can make exciting passes every once in a while, he deserved to be back in F1 on his merit, he brings experience to Caterham while still having some considerable upside remaining, he’s instrumental in Tony Fernandes’ plans to expand the Caterham brand into Asia, and oh yeah – Japan has a driver on the grid again. It’d be an astronomical long shot to see the home fans chanting his name on the podium like they did in 2012, since Caterham have yet to even score a point in four seasons of F1, but he is their best chance at finally getting on the board in 2014.

    And with Robin Frijns and Alexander Rossi as the team’s reserve drivers, Caterham have two test drivers that are good enough to be the race drivers for some other F1 team already!

    If there’s one thing I don’t like…what’s with the lime green and white? It’s an interesting new look for sure, but what was wrong with the old 1960’s Lotus green and gold livery, other than literally nothing?

    Other than that, no complaints here. More than ever now, I’m really hoping 2014 is the year Caterham breaks through into the points.

  14. Fixy (@fixy) said on 21st January 2014, 14:51

    Of the three announcements made today, this surprises me the most! Kamui is a nice guy, but probably not one of the best and at Caterham it won’t make difference whether it’s a Pic or a Kobayashi. Pic failed to impress but van der Garde was positive, and I don’t like Ericsson’s GP2 results. Best of luck to both and to the former two as well!

  15. Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 21st January 2014, 15:14

    Happy to see Koba back . It felt very sad to see him go just after that brilliant Suzuka podium . Deserves a second chance in my opinion . I don’t know anything about Ericsson . Is he good ?

  16. Maciek (@maciek) said on 21st January 2014, 16:12

    Good. Kobayashi’s best comes out in a fight, so here’s hoping for lots of that for him this year. Seems like a really likeable chap and he doesn’t back down in a duel – what’s not to like? Go Kamui!

  17. Happy with Kobayashi… Ericsson not so much, not much to write home about in GP2.

    But nice to see Frijns get some guaranteed running. I like that guy.

    • Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 21st January 2014, 21:33

      It’s quite funny to see people dismissing Ericsson based on his GP2 results, considering Kobayashi finished 16th in both of his GP2 seasons!

      • Sergio Perez (@sergio-perez) said on 22nd January 2014, 16:56

        Exactly. Believe me. You want to know if a driver is fast or not? Look at the Macau Grand Prix performance. Sometimes they crash out. But look at qualifying and Qualification race results. Check them online. You’ll notice that those that yearly (there are of course some “off” years) those that finish in the top 5 end up having interesting careers.

  18. Paul (@frankjaeger) said on 21st January 2014, 16:52

    Welcome back to the pitlane Kobayashi!

  19. maxthecat said on 21st January 2014, 17:03

    A new low for F1. Used to be based on talent, that went and it became about talent/sponsorship (something i’ve never had an issue with) Then is became about money before talent. Now it seems all you need is a few hundred thousand people to give you some cash and as long as you can drive a car to a mediocre standard, you’re in.

    • Maciek (@maciek) said on 21st January 2014, 17:26

      A new low for comments. Used to be about having something interesting to say (something I’ve never had an issue with). Then it became all about saying something just to get people’s goat. Now it seems all you need is a few dozen words slagging someone without basis and as long as you can string together a few mediocre sentences, you’re in.

  20. While Kamui is a decent driver and is welcome to the grid, I dont think its goings to make any difference if Caterham does not put their act together. Else, he’ll end up behind the mid-fielders and we would hardly get to see him until the race results are shown at the end of the race. Good luck to him nevertheless!

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