Lotterer tipped for surprise F1 debut at Spa

F1 Fanatic Round-up

Andre Lotterer, Audi, World Endurance Championship, Silverstone, 2014In the round-up: Audi’s three-times Le Mans 24 Hours winner Andre Lotterer could make a surprise F1 debut in this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix with Caterham.

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Lotterer linked to Caterham drive (Autosport)

“It is likely he would replace Kamui Kobayashi, who has been told that there are no guarantees he will retain his seat until the end of the campaign.”

Ecco come sarà il nuovo muso della Caterham! (Omnicorse, Italian)

Caterham are also reported to have a new nose design and revised diffuser for this weekend’s race.

Vijay Mallya may have to exit company boards if declared ‘wilful defaulter’ (The Times of India)

“A wilful defaulter tag may force UB Group boss Vijay Mallya to quit the boards of India’s largest alcoholic beverage companies, dealing a big blow to the tycoon whose jet-setting lifestyle once won him many young admirers.”

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Comment of the day

Some were surprised to see Fernando Alonso name Jarno Trulli as his fastest team mate over a single lap, but not everyone:

Flavio Briatore seemed to turn on Trulli well before his performance dipped. It seemed to me at the time that Trulli’s performance was a result of Briatore’s bullying rather than the other way round.

It’s nice of Alonso to remember Trulli, a truly exceptional driver over one lap.
Tgu (@Thegrapeunwashed)

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On this day in F1

Niki Lauda used all his cunning and mechanical sympathy to win his home grand prix for the first time 30 years ago today.

Both McLarens suffered gearbox problems. Alain Prost spun off while trying to keep his car in gear.

Lauda, however, stroked his car home. Behind him Nelson Piquet believed Lauda was merely preserving his car and elected to do the same. When he discovered afterwards the trouble Lauda had been in, he realised he squandered a chance for victory.

It was a valuable victory for Lauda in a year when he eventually won the title by half a point.

Lauda had passed Piquet earlier in the race – at a point when the television coverage was not to the standard expected by champion-turned-commentator James Hunt:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJikgKBHjK4

Image © Audi

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119 comments on Lotterer tipped for surprise F1 debut at Spa

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  1. Strontium (@strontium) said on 19th August 2014, 0:04

    No! Please no! Not Kobayashi! Take Ericsson, you can do whatever you want with his seat, but KOBAYASHIIII!!! :( :(

  2. Tyler (@tdog) said on 19th August 2014, 0:10

    So, potentially two F1 rookies named in one week, one of whom is twice the age of the other!

  3. Paul (@frankjaeger) said on 19th August 2014, 0:10

    Caterham are all over the place at the moment, it’s probably better for KK if he relinquishes his relationship with the team. I think it’s back to other series’ for KK unless someone throws him a serious lifeline; a shame.

    • socksolid (@socksolid) said on 19th August 2014, 17:11

      Personally I feel extremely sad for every driver who signs for caterham or marussia. They are such horrible career killing teams. In the full history of f1 there has not been one single driver who has moved to better team from those backmarker teams. 0. Only hrt had one driver who now drives for red bull. But he was going to get a toro rosso drive anyways. There is bruno senna of course but he was for hrt as well. And with senna only things good about him were the bags of money and the surname.

      For Lotterer it doesn’t really make any difference. He is already over 30 years old and driving for caterham will be more of a nice thing in his cv. To take part in f1 race is never bad thing even if you drive utterly awful team. And to drive an F1 car in f1 race weekend is still pretty awesome experience even if the car is as hopeless turd as the caterham.

      Kobayashi could be driving better than senna now in that pos caterham car and nobody would notice. Even senna at his peak could not make anything in that car. The car is so many seconds behind anything else on the track that even if you maximise everything you are still looking at the last 4 positions. We already saw Glock totally kill his career by going to marussia. Then it was kobayashi. Who’s next?

      • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 19th August 2014, 19:27

        @socksolid Firstly, VDG and PIC moved up the rankings into testing roles.

        Secondly, I’m sure BIA isn’t ‘going nowhere’ – many consider him a Ferrari shoe-in.

        At the end of the day, it shows how hard it is to run a competitive team in F1 on anything but a limitless budget.

        • socksolid (@socksolid) said on 19th August 2014, 20:01

          F1 teams nowadays have more test drivers than they have spare spanners. For bianchi it would be really difficult to move to other teams if it wasn’t ferrari helping. I’d go as far to say that bianchi would have been replaced by pay driver already if he didnt bring a sponsor. Or he would have never got the drive in the first place.

          Of course teams will accept anyone for test driver if they bring money. It is essentially free money. Only expenses are travel expenses and even with those I don’t know if the teams pay those themselves or is there some kind of arrangement with fom and the teams… When things get serious most teams will fly someone from the other side of the world to drive the car while the test and reserve drivers wonder what are they paying for…

      • Robert (@gicu) said on 20th August 2014, 8:39

        the car is as hopeless turd as the caterham.

        Agreed, they should paint the car brown, with little black specs, those being the flies. :)

  4. RBAlonso (@rbalonso) said on 19th August 2014, 0:14

    Regardless of whether Verstappen is talented enough for the job, I think this is a ridiculous appointment. I’m sure that he will be able to handle the car and have, from what I’ve seen, strong raw pace. But is raw pace enough? Not for me. If you ask me who the best current driver is I would say Alonso. Vettel and Hamilton, it can be very convincingly argued, have better one lap pace so why is Alonso the benchmark. It’s his race craft and experience. I can’t really remember too many ‘stupid’ crashes that he has had with other drivers since he became champion 9 years ago. His close quarter racing is surely up with the greatest of all time. Verstappen simply can’t have raced closely with enough drivers. Yes, his win rate is exceptional but he is not moving into a top car he will spend most of his time in the mid-field racing on circuits he has no prior knowledge of.

    It could be argued Raikkonen was young, which he was; but 20 is a long way from 17 in terms of maturity. A few bad weekends could lead to serious mental pressure especially in the cut-throat environment of Toro Rosso where drivers are cut loose after 3 seasons anyway. Red Bull will surely not allow them to drive for anyone other than RBR who want to keep control of Vettel and Ricciardo for the foreseeable future.

    What about, Sainz, Lynn and Da Costa? They are surely more deserving of the seat? What happens to their careers now? Wait until they are dropped from Red Bull and try to enter F1 with another team? For me no-one can benefit from this. Verstappen very possibly could suffer the fate of too much too soon, Toro Rosso lose out from a partnership which has a 20 yr-old one season tested driver as team leader and Red Bull’s junior programme appears a dead end for drivers in the next few years.

    The best solution would be to give drivers two seasons in Toro Rosso and then lease them to interested teams to cycle through this quantity of young talent. As an F1 fan I feel I am seriously losing out by not seeing what Sainz and Da Costa could do.

    • I understand what you are saying to a certain extent, however just to play devils advocate, Buemi was a 21 year old “half season tested” driver when they brought Alguersuari in for the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009.

      Arguably you could say that the problem for the Buemi/Alguersuari pairing was the fact that in 2010 Toro Rosso had to begin building cars on their own again.

      With all that said, Verstappen is still extremely young. I will reserve my judgement until next year.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 19th August 2014, 7:24

      And while everybody talks about Verstappen. Someone who has matched Ricciardo’s pace in the past seasons is being sacked, but nobody cares …

      • BJ (@beejis60) said on 19th August 2014, 15:00

        @paeschli I care. I said yesterday that JEV really has to be feeling it despite virtually matching RIC the past two years and beating KYV this year.

      • Strontium (@strontium) said on 19th August 2014, 20:07

        @paeschli @beejis60 True, Vergne going has been very much ignored (but at least it was made clear now and not weeks before the season started like Buemi and Alguersuari), but in my view he really hasn’t done anything special, or shown that much promise. The gap between him and Ricciardo was close, but Ricciardo was, most of the time, that little bit further ahead, and faster.

        And he is beating a rookie who has done 11 races by 5 points. That is not much considering that Kvyat has a lot more to show.

        That said, I think Vergne is still deserving of a seat, especially when compared with Chilton, Maldonado, etc. Who knows? Maybe he will end up with a seat next year anyway.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 19th August 2014, 7:34

      @rbalonso +1.

      Even though I (and F1F) don’t think Seb is currently top 3 driver, I couldn’t agree more.

      Max has a huge potential, but is there any need to rush him up to F1? He’s just joined Red Bull whose programme has drivers like Felix da Costa, Sainz Junior and Lynn! In my book, Max, as of today, is not better than none of them.

      My theory is Red Bull was desperate to attach Max because he seems to be WDC material and Mercedes had a good proposal for Jos Verstapen, so to get the kid they offered something Mercedes couldn’t: an F1 seat in 2015.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 19th August 2014, 16:28

      @rbalonso – I think you’ve missed the point of Toro Rosso though. They aren’t trying to get experienced drivers with Alonso-level race craft… They are trying to get young inexperienced drivers with serious potential and raw pace into F1 as early as possible to see what they are made of. If it works (Ricciardo & Vettel), they get a seat at RBR. If it doesn’t, they simply replace them with the next youngster in the programme.

      They’ve obviously decided that either JEV or Kvyat aren’t good enough for RBR so that’s it.

      • RBAlonso (@rbalonso) said on 19th August 2014, 17:20

        Hey @petebaldwin My comparison with Alonso was to show that it’s not only raw pace that defines a driver. Although I understand what you mean that TR are realistically never going to run 2 30 yr olds I think that 17 and 20 may be a touch too far. Kvyat will have no real knowledge of car set-up by season two and he can’t be expected to teach Max anything. Even Sainz has knowledge of how Red Bull works and the difference in performance of a number of cars.

        Essentially, if the two kids make a hash of next season where does that leave TR? Postponing the announcement by a year would allow Kyvat more experience and Verstappen more maturity IMO. I also don’t really want to see another drivers career finish by the age of 21 when he could have been champion given the right direction.

    • socksolid (@socksolid) said on 19th August 2014, 17:21

      I think such young driver could actually do really well in such career defining chance. Young people in general do not tend to worry about the future as much as people in their 20s and 30s and as a result don’t feel as much negative pressures. In fact a young mind with his more fanatic, focused and uncompromising approach could really shine in such environment. If you look at vergne I’m sure he is feeling the pressures of his career. But for young driver like Max those things probably don’t matter as much.

      And even if he fails he is young enough to go do something else and come back into F1. And unlike many of the other drivers he can focus 110% into his F1 career. He simply does not know any better. Or anything else than racing. There are no distractions like wives, yachts, kids and money. And as a young mind he probably won’t care about those things as much anyways because he hasn’t experienced anything else than racing. For sport that demands such full attention and confidence all the time a young mind like Max could be perfect fit.

  5. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 19th August 2014, 0:16

    Caterham would be a massive step down from Audi. Unless this is just as a one-off of course.

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 19th August 2014, 0:30

      At Caterham’s current pace, it’d be a step down from his Super Formula seat. If they’re more than 2 seconds down to last year, his laptimes during round 1 of this year’s Super Formula race at Suzuka might be faster than what Caterham can do. I’m not joking about those figures either..

  6. Custard said on 19th August 2014, 0:18

    No, Kamui!! We’re not losing you again! Lose Kamui and Caterham lose any chance they had left. Lotterer will never be as good or as cool! Join McLaren and appease Honda

  7. Deej92 (@deej92) said on 19th August 2014, 0:18

    Lotterer will finally get to drive a slow green car in F1 after all these years of waiting…

  8. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 19th August 2014, 0:25

    Have to say I have mixed feelings about this. While it would be an absolute tragedy to lose Kobayashi again, I have long believed that Andre Lotterer is one of the best drivers outside of F1. A truly gifted driver – not many can claim to have won Le Mans 3 times in 4 years. And it’s not like his skills are limited to sportscars either – he’s always a championship contender in the Japanese Super Formula series, having won the title in 2011 and is currently sitting 2nd in this season’s standings.

    I don’t want to start gushing or anything, and I would be gutted to see Kobayashi out of F1 again, but if he was forced out of F1, I would absolutely love for it to be Lotterer.

  9. matt90 (@matt90) said on 19th August 2014, 0:30

    As I said elsewhere about Lotterer…

    That would be great. He seems like the strongest of his Le Mans trio and should be a 3 time Yipon champion if the scoring made any sense (twice he came joint 2nd on points, but they then pick the winner based on who finished the last race higher rather than on count-back across all the rounds, with which he would have won).

    And that Massa quote is funny. I don’t remember him even leading a lap, and he couldn’t even challenge for 2nd on the track until Raikkonen crashed out for him.

  10. MattyPF1 (@mattypf1) said on 19th August 2014, 0:36

    I just have to say, does Lotterer even have a super license? I mean, he races in the FIA WEC and that’s pretty much it. He’s turning 33, which is really old for an F1 driver’s debut these days, and hasn’t really had any links let alone tests to any F1 teams before.

    And why Kobayashi? Did Caterham take all of his sponsorship money or something because he’s a talented driver and although he may be last in the championship (which is due to the fact that Bianchi scored points in Monaco and Ericsson just missed out on some points in Monaco as well), that doesn’t mean he’s worth replacing for a driver who will enter as one of the oldest F1 drivers in the field.

    Why not Carlos Sainz Jr. to race for Caterham, which is what was being tipped as happening not so long ago (in the build-up to Silverstone I believe).

    • MattyPF1 (@mattypf1) said on 19th August 2014, 0:37

      I just made a mistake. He was linked towards Jaguar in 2002.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 19th August 2014, 0:56

      The driver must also satisfy at least one of the following
      requirements:

      have been classified, within the previous 2 years, in the first
      3 of the final classification of: the F2 Championship, or the
      International F3 Trophy, or the GP2 Series, or the GP2 Asia
      Series or the Japanese F/Nippon Championship,

      In Nippon he finished 2nd last year, actually with as many points and more wins than the winner, but came second due to not competing in the final round.

    • @mattypf1 – You’re not serious, right? The guy’s a triple Le Mans 24H winner in LMP1 with the Audi works team and has raced for 11 seasons (competitively) in Formula Nippon and you’re asking if he has a superlicence?

      Lotterer’s good. How good he would be in an F1 car is subject to debate, but I reckon he’s one of the better options Kolles (or Kolles’ affiliates, because if Lotterer gets the seat I figure Kolles might have had a say in it) could come up with.

    • hunocsi (@hunocsi) said on 19th August 2014, 1:01

      Lotterer races in Super Formula, which is the second fastest series right now just behind F1, and as the article says, he can have a super license as he was last year’s runner-up.

      I think they shouldn’t ditch Kobayashi for him though, they need an experienced F1 driver like him, but Ericsson can go – he’s slow, he crashes too often especially as he has barely anyone around him. I would be very happy to see Lotterer in an F1 car, he performs well in Super Formula and is probably the fastest driver in WEC too.

    • ColdFly F1 (@coldfly) said on 19th August 2014, 7:22

      The real question is: will he jump out of the car during the first pit stop for a driver change.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 19th August 2014, 7:52

      He’s a Super Formula racer and it’s perceived as second division to F1 like GP2.

  11. I said it before and I’ll say it again. Why Kobayashi chose to cut his Ferrari links and, with it, turn down a perfectly competitive seat with AF Corse in the WEC, in order to race for Caterham in F1 (apparently for half a season) baffles me and it goes well beyond any point of understanding.

    I always liked the guy and I still think he’s a pretty good driver (not exceptional, but better than some of the guys in F1 at the moment and definitely a worthy contender in WEC) but returning to F1 and paying to race for a dead-end team in what looked at that particular moment like the second slowest car of the field with virtually no chance for a promotion to a better outfit in sight was a horrendous career choice, at best. And this announcement comes as proof of that.

    On the other hand, I’m VERY interested to see how Lotterer would fare in an F1 car, having missed his chance with Jaguar some 10 years ago.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 19th August 2014, 7:30

      I said it before and I’ll say it again. Why Kobayashi chose to cut his Ferrari links and, with it, turn down a perfectly competitive seat with AF Corse in the WEC, in order to race for Caterham in F1 (apparently for half a season) baffles me and it goes well beyond any point of understanding.

      Well … if Renault had build the best engine this year and Caterham had made a better car, he would have scored points already. Just imagine what Koba could do with a Mercedes powered Caterham. It was a good bet to join F1 during a big rule change, the order could have changed. Sadly his bet didn’t turn out?

    • JimG (@jimg) said on 19th August 2014, 13:06

      @tony031r:

      Why Kobayashi chose to cut his Ferrari links and, with it, turn down a perfectly competitive seat with AF Corse in the WEC, in order to race for Caterham in F1 (apparently for half a season) baffles me and it goes well beyond any point of understanding.

      Driving in F1 is the dream of many. It’s so hard to get a seat that all but the most confident will take any seat, presumably on the premise that it’s easier to progress from the inside than break in from the outside. Even “virtually no chance of promotion” from a backmarker is usually better than the chance of getting into a midfield or better team from outside the sport.

      I like Kobayashi too: he’s an exciting driver who comes across very well outside the car and is at least as good as Perez but unfortunately without the backing. He’s had two bites at the F1 cherry now, which is two more than most aspiring drivers get. I hope that he’s still on the grid next year, but I won’t be surprised if he isn’t.

      • Driving in F1 is the dream of many.

        @paeschli: And Kobayashi got to live it. Not at its fullest, of course, but given the current state of the competition, I doubt he would have had the chance anyway.

        In a modern day Formula One, where most midfield and backmarker teams struggle on the brink of extinction, relying on the pay driver who arrives at their door with the largest bag of money and where top team seats are reserved for world champions, established drivers or driver development programme graduates it’s virtually insane for drivers like Kobayashi to think they have a shot. If Hulkenberg keeps getting left out by top teams for a couple of years now, and everybody knows he’s good, if the waiting list includes the likes of Bianchi, Vandoorne or Verstappen, who would hire Kobayashi then?

        That test driver role with Ferrari was probably as close as he would have gotten to a top team.

        if Renault had build the best engine this year and Caterham had made a better car, he would have scored points already.

        And if Sauber pulled a Brawn in 2012 maybe he would have become a world champion. Unfortunately F1 isn’t a game of would haves and should haves. It’s also not a competition where backmarker teams become winners overnight.

        Kobayashi knew what he was getting into at Caterham. He didn’t know how competitive the package would turn out to be, but I think he had a good hint about the team’s status and potential to score points. Also, if Fernandez’s “be competitive or I’m selling the everything” statements and the pressure he put on his team before the start of the season didn’t say anything relevant about Caterham’s situation, I don’t know what did.

        Anyway, perseverance is not always a virtue. Knowing when to move on is. It’s hindsight, I know, but having a racing seat with the semi-works Ferrari team in the WEC is a far better option than having no seat at all. And at the moment I doubt Ferrari will take him back.

    • First the guy had no idea Caterham will be this bad or that Renault would get it wrong compared to Mercedes. For all he knew this rule change was the chance for a team like Caterham to start at a more even playing field and finally produce something decent. They failed unfortunately.
      Second even if he knew that Caterham wouldn’t allow him to show much of his skills, if he wanted to still have a chance in F1 it was essential that he drove this new cars and have some experience with them. This way he can keep in touch and use that as a card when trying to find a seat at another team.

  12. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 19th August 2014, 0:57

    The thing I dislike about Max Verstappen getting the STR drive is that 2 other Red Bull backed drivers further up the ladder Alex Lynn (GP3) & Carlos Sainz Jr. (World series by Renault) who are both walking away with there respective championships who are both good enough & ready to make the step upto F1 have been overlooked.

    Alex Lynn has the benefit of been able to move up the ladder to WSBR or GP2, But Sainz is already at the top of the Junior ladder. For Sainz Jr. moving to GP2 would be a sidewards step as its about on par with WSBR so where does he go?

    • Neil (@neilosjames) said on 19th August 2014, 1:53

      Maybe they’ll get rid of that Vettel bloke, shift Kvyat to RB and bring up Sainz too…

      But in seriousness yes, I suppose he’ll be a bit gutted… though admittedly I’m not entirely convinced by either Sainz Jr or Lynn.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 19th August 2014, 8:28

      @stefmeister If Red Bull doesn’t put him in a backmarker (Caterham maybe) he will end up in WEC or DTM (like Felix da Costa) and could become the next big thing that never happened… it’s how easy your career makes a turn to nowhere.

      McLaren wants to find a seat for Vandoorne too and I wonder how the odds look like… maybe they will hire Hulkenberg and put their kid in Force India if Vijay sees some cash…

      • Klaas (@klaas) said on 19th August 2014, 16:36

        @jcost And in these moments you begin to wonder wether the 3 car per team idea was so bad indeed…

        • GT Racer (@gt-racer) said on 19th August 2014, 18:14

          3 car teams are indeed a bad idea, Hence why most in F1 have always been against them.

          3 car teams would just shut out the smaller teams, Would push the mid-field teams further down & make it harder for them to score points.

          Plus in a year with a dominant team (Like Mercedes this year) you risk seeing podium locks out by 1 team & the championships been ended a lot earlier (Look at WTCC this year with the 3 Citroens dominating).

          If you say the 3rd car can’t score points you just end up with that car been used strategically at times to benefit the 2 cars eligible for points.

        • JCost (@jcost) said on 20th August 2014, 20:35

          @klaas I think Red Bull and Ferrari would welcome the 3 cars team idea. I think two is ok.

  13. Irejag (@irejag) said on 19th August 2014, 3:21

    If Caterham take Kamui out then they are even more dumb than I gave them credit. Kamui is a fan favorite, and that is something that they as well as F1 need right now.

  14. matiascasali (@matiascasali) said on 19th August 2014, 3:28

    how about Lotterer (audi’s man) start driving for a team wich is suspected to be a “C” team for Redbull… wouldn’t it be cool if this was a door for audi to enter F1, as roumors spred last year a couple of times, linking the level of success and exposure Audi-VW gathered with RedBull on the WRC and Dakkar?

    • @matiascasali

      Lotterer’s arrival is Colin Kolles’ move. It has nothing to do with Audi. Caterham has been taken over by a consortium advised by Kolles and the team is currently ran by Albers (a protegee of Kolles). Lotterer made his endurance debut in a Kolles privateer Audi. That’s how he landed a contract with the works team.

      The WEC doesn’t have a race scheduled until the 20th of September (same weekend as the Singapore GP) and has a rather short calendar. It is a common thing for endurance drivers to be permitted by their teams to enter other competitions as well, during the season, but Lotterer is still under contract with Audi. A contract he’s most-likely going to serve, especially as he’s currently runner-up in the WEC standings.

      So he’s probably nothing more than a short-term solution for Caterham. I expect him to race at Spa and possibly Monza. I don’t expect him to be in that car at the Singapore GP and beyond and I definitely don’t expect Audi Sport to be involved.

  15. greg-c (@greg-c) said on 19th August 2014, 5:01

    No one can make a Caterham fast,

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