2014 F1 season
Caterham 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?óÔé¼Ôäós 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 ?óÔÇÜ?¼8 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?óÔé¼Ôäós a chance to start again with a new team but one that?óÔé¼Ôäós 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?óÔé¼Ôäóve 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?óÔé¼Ôäós obviously great for Sweden that we?óÔé¼Ôäóll have a Swedish driver back on the grid in 2014,” said Ericsson. “This is what I?óÔé¼Ôäóve been working for since I first started racing karts back when I was nine years old, and now I know I?óÔé¼Ôäóm ready for the step up to F1.”
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Image ?é?® Caterham/LAT