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. 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?

  2. ajokay (@ajokay) said on 21st January 2014, 14:01

    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?

      • ajokay (@ajokay) said on 21st January 2014, 16:37

        @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?

          • ajokay (@ajokay) said on 21st January 2014, 18:44

            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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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 ?

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

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

    Welcome back to the pitlane Kobayashi!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. Jack (@jmc200) said on 21st January 2014, 20:50

    ONCE MORE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nhXAVCZHLM “You know when you’ve been KK-ed” – Martin Brundle

  12. Sauber (@mumito) said on 21st January 2014, 21:06

    Kamui – Bianchi will be a very good matchup.

  13. Patrick (@paeschli) said on 21st January 2014, 21:10

    Kamui Kobayashi ‘s got some balls!

    He refused an offer from Stefano Domenicali to drive in the WEC championship and do some simulator and devolpment work with Ferrari. Instead, he’s driving for Caterham for free!

    You can’t deny this kid has ambition and really lives for his passion, driving a F1 car!

    I really hope he can get some good results this year and hopefully we’ll see him back at a team where he can score some podium finishes in 2015.

    He’s maybe not the fastest driver on the grid (he was more or less on par with Perez at Sauber) but damn … this guy ‘s got me exited for this year!

  14. ME4ME (@me4me) said on 21st January 2014, 21:41

    I can’t help to be slightly underwhelmed. Honestly i think they should have kept Van der Garde for continuity, and pick up Frijns for the second seat. I think Frijns, Formula Renault 3.5 champion, has much more potential than Ericsson, who hasn’t showed anything over the last couple of years. Kobayashi, well, everyone seems to like him, but he isn’t actually that quick. His last season at Sauber wasn’t that impressive at all really. Perez outperformed him badly. Nonetheless i really hope Caterham has a good year, and can race with the midfield for real this time.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 21st January 2014, 21:52

      Perez outperformed him badly.

      That’s just not true. He was quite unlucky, that explains the points difference between him and Perez in 2013.

      Don’t forget he got on the podium at Suzuka and started the Belgian GP at the front row. Two great tracks, two times Koba that impresses us, he definetely deserves that Sauber seat more than Sutil or Gutierrez!

    • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 21st January 2014, 23:21

      @me4me I’d hardly say outperformed him at all really. Yes Perez finished higher on points but he got most of them from his podiums where he made an alternative strategy work. Kobayashi also had a lot of impressiv. Qualifyings (China, Spa, Suzuka) whereas Perez did not. They were relatively evenly matched in 2012, with Kobayashi arguably the more consistent of the two.

  15. budchekov (@budchekov) said on 22nd January 2014, 1:09

    Put a big smile on my face :)
    Kamui’s a RACER, hopefully this will be a stepladder to where he belongs, driving for one of the current ‘big’ 4 teams.

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