Lotterer confirmed in Kobayashi’s seat at Spa

2014 F1 season

Andre Lotterer, Caterham, 2014Andre Lotterer will make a surprise Formula One debut in this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The German driver, who scored his third victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours for Audi earlier this year, will drive for Caterham in place of Kamui Kobayashi.

In a statement on Wednesday the team said it “will benefit from having another experienced driver at the wheel of the car throughout the weekend and the German’s feedback will contribute to improve the performance of the car”.

“The weather also plays a big role at Spa-Francorchamps and Lotterer is one of the most experienced drivers racing under mixed conditions.”

Lotterer said he’s “ready for this challenge and I cannot wait to jump in the car and make the most out of the weekend ahead”.

“I will need to get settled and used to the car quickly, as the team has worked on a number of updates and we will need to have as much time as possible out on track to optimise the car’s performance,” he added.

“I really enjoy racing at the legendary circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, it’s one of my favourite tracks and it’s very close to where I grew up, so this makes the weekend even more special and one to remember.”

Lotterer has raced at Spa twice already this year, driving Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro in the World Endurance Championship six-hour race in May and an Audi R8 LMS GT3 car in last month’s 24 Hours of Spa.

Caterham said the swap is for this race only and Kobayashi “still remains part of the team”.

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140 comments on Lotterer confirmed in Kobayashi’s seat at Spa

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  1. ajokay (@ajokay) said on 20th August 2014, 12:06

    Is this just for Spa, or the rest of the season? I know none of the F1 and WEC weekends clash, but there’s still 5 6-hour WEC races to go and they’re all the flyaways (as are the majority of the F1 races), so he’s going to be very busy if this is until the end of the season.

  2. Mashiat (@mashiat) said on 20th August 2014, 12:06

    Why? Just Why.

  3. Wow! So the rumours were true after all! Strange decision by Caterham to be honest with you because I don’t think he has any open wheel racing experience at all!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th August 2014, 12:28

      Actually he has quite a lot of single-seater experience – see the biography which is linked in the first sentence of the article.

      • Banburyhammer (@banburyhammer) said on 20th August 2014, 20:49

        On hearing this news I was disappointed that Kobayashi is missing this race, but even more excited at seeing the prospect of Lotterer in a Grand Prix, and Spa to boot! A lot of peoples nostalgia for 70s/80s era F1 is not only rooted is the cars of the era, but the drivers too. The grid had a greater percentage of national champion, sportscar drivers, people that were recognised from successes in other high ranking series.

        The inclusion of a 3 time outright winner of Le Mans – the single most prestigious race in the whole motorsport calendar – even if only for one race must be a good thing, right? Imagine my surprise when I read comments questioning his competence! Being a three time winner at Le Mans immediately gives him greater kudos in terms of career achievements on the grid than the likes of Ricciardo, Massa, Rosberg, and even Button.

        As good and as entertaining as Kobayashi is, and even though he probably should be taking Ericsson’s place, his presence lends the grid true gravitas – if only for the one race.

        • Kevin McDonald said on 21st August 2014, 0:01

          Its worth pointing out Allan McNish is a 3 times Le Mans winner and his F1 career was hardly stellar. Just saying that results in other categories of Motorsport don’t always translate to a different series.

          • DC (@dujedcv) said on 21st August 2014, 16:39

            Yeah right, and Toyota was one of the top teams in 2002. Your comment is invalid. Best WEC drivers are equal to best F1 drivers. Put them in BTCC and we shall see.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 20th August 2014, 14:15

      He does have experience. And on rumors: In 21st century, there’s no such thing as a rumor… I can’t even remember the last “F1 rumor” that was not confirmed a couple of days of its emergence…

      Hamilton to Mercedes, McLaren and Honda, Lotus and Mercedes, Kimi to Ferrari, Double points, Mexico GP…

    • Carlitox (@carlitox) said on 20th August 2014, 14:44

      He was one of Toyota’s young drivers back in 2002, along with now IndyCar racer Ryan Briscoe. Don’t know if he actually tested during those years. Testing was allowed but usually down to the drivers or a properly appointed Tester driver.
      I feel bad for Koba, but who can blame him for clinging to his dream? He wanted F1, not GTs. Now Ferrari won’t want him and god knows where he’ll go. IndyCar? I’d certainly love it.

  4. Mashiat (@mashiat) said on 20th August 2014, 12:10

    I honestly already miss Tony Fernandes! These new owners just seem to be doing things which are in fact going to seal their place in 11th for the constructors. I mean, with all the driver available to them they go for this guy?! Couldn’t they have signed, erm…maybe I don’t know, AN F1 DRIVER WITH EXPERIENCE IN AN F1 CAR IN THE LAST 12 YEARS!!!

    • @mashiat Why would Webber, a respected driver, waste a weekend of his life to come back to a sport that he only left last year to drive in a car that basically is designed to end P22…?

    • Pete (@repete86) said on 20th August 2014, 13:26

      They hired the team principle from one of the few recent F1 teams less accomplished than Caterham if that says anything. I hope that Gene Haas can have some success to show that it’s still possible to start an F1 team.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 20th August 2014, 14:19

      He as open wheel experience. He has hybrid power experience… who knows? Seems to me he’s better equipped than Max Verstappen… However that’s a strange move, so strange I think that “one race contract” is in exchange of big bucks.

    • George (@george) said on 20th August 2014, 17:56

      Lotterer is a very good driver, one of the fastest in an LMP1 car. Whether that transfers to an F1 car is hard to say (Webber isn’t exactly setting the WEC alight), but even if he doesn’t have great pace he can still be useful from a development point of view.

      • toiago (@toiago) said on 20th August 2014, 19:14

        one of the fastest in an LMP1 car

        Indeed. His stints in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans were mighty, as they have always been. I honestly hope he can have a decent result in Belgium.

    • DC (@dujedcv) said on 21st August 2014, 16:44

      Maybe they want to give him some F1 experience, given the fact that he is currently one of the best racing drivers in the world (yes, there are people better than F1 drivers). And it’s not like Caterham is a winning team – even if he doesn’t do well it won’t make any difference.

  5. Mashiat (@mashiat) said on 20th August 2014, 12:10

    What’s the point in having a driver with no experience for 1 race?!

    • GT Racer (@gt-racer) said on 20th August 2014, 13:30

      To give them feedback to help them decide on a direction to take development.

      Sometimes bringing someone in even if its just for 1 run can validate the data from the existing drivers & help the engineer’s & design team find the correct route for further development of not only the 2014 car but also the 2015 car.

      Lotterer may not have any recent F1 experience but he is very well respected for providing exceptional feedback on how whatever cars he’s driving is working.
      I believe he was one of the primary test drivers for the current Super Formula car which is is now racing in that series over in Japan. He also does a lot of the testing for Audi’s LMP1 program.

      • Sven (@crammond) said on 20th August 2014, 16:13

        To give them feedback to help them decide on a direction to take development.

        Is it about the feedback he can provide to Caterham, or about what he may be able to provide for Audi/VW? I think it´s odd all this happens shortly after Bernie´s legal issues in Germany ended, which was the thing that hindered Audi/VW from getting into F1.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 20th August 2014, 13:52

      I lol’ed here.

      [the team] will benefit from having another experienced driver at the wheel of the car throughout the weekend and the German’s feedback will contribute to improve the performance of the car

      Depends what you mean with experience.

      Experience in F1? then the duo Kamui – Ericsson is better than Lotterer – Ericsson in that respect. Experience in the “big leagues”. Then Kamui – Lotterer would be better.

      Plus I don’t see how a guy that’s not driven an F1 car since probably 2002, when he was tester for Jaguar, would help improve anything…

      As with everything… it’s got to do with money… at least I hope it’s just for 1 race.

    • Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 20th August 2014, 14:00

      Lotterer has plenty of experience and an F1 car is not a million miles away from an LMP1 as some people would like to believe.

    • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 20th August 2014, 16:23

      Andre Lotterer is a massively experienced racing driver. You have to remember @mashiat is that there are more racing series than just Formula One. He’s won Le Mans three times and the Japanese Super Formula championship twice. That’s a bloody good CV if you ask me.

      • Mashiat (@mashiat) said on 21st August 2014, 9:53

        @craig-o Yes, but is it good enough to help Caterham achieve 11th or higher, considering it sometimes even takes active drivers time to adjust to a new car…and all in, and for, 1 race with the worst car out in the field right now.

    • DC (@dujedcv) said on 21st August 2014, 16:49

      I will just repost the same reply as above:

      Maybe they want to give him some F1 experience, given the fact that he is currently one of the best racing drivers in the world (yes, there are people better than F1 drivers). And it’s not like Caterham is a winning team – even if he doesn’t do well it won’t make any difference.

      And I suppose that their other driver is very experienced.
      Seriously, what is the matter with people favouring F1 drivers over everyone else???

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th August 2014, 12:11

    Ironically the best circuit for Lotterer to substitute for Kobayashi would surely be Suzuka. Lotterer has huge experience there from over a decade in Japanese Super Formula, racing on it as often as three times per season and more if you add his Super GT entries. Whereas Kobayashi, having spent most of his junior career in Europe, has far less experience at his home track, particularly in powerful single-seaters.

    There’s no reason why Lotterer couldn’t replace Ericsson of course, though that is also true in this case…

    • RBAlonso (@rbalonso) said on 20th August 2014, 12:16

      @keithcollantine I’m right in saying Ericsson brings money but Lotterer and Kobayashi don’t? The old talent and hope for a wet race and a point vs last and money in the bank problem.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 20th August 2014, 13:23

      But on the other hand, Kobayashi did score à podium at Suzuka …

    • The comedic bit here is the point tha Lotterer has experience in bad weather or mixed conditions. How does he have some special experience there, given that F1 races in rain as well? To the contrary, why would you put a guy into a formula car with tires, braking, and DF characteristics with which he has no history, an which are diabolical for even experienced drivers, on one of the the fastest and most dangerous tracks on the calendar? I’m a fan of Lotterer, he’s very good, but if conditions are difficult I see him spending some time in the gravel.

    • Irejag (@irejag) said on 20th August 2014, 18:00

      Yes, well keep in mind that Kamui got a podium in Japan when he was with Sauber. Kamui is better for the sport. Remember the risks he took driving for Toyota? That was exciting, he did well for sauber as well. If you put him in a McLaren or Ferrari he would be highly competitive.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th August 2014, 18:31

        @irejag

        If you put him in a McLaren or Ferrari he would be highly competitive.

        The less experienced Sergio Perez beat him when the pair were team mates at Sauber in 2012, than had a less-than-great campaign with McLaren the following year. That doesn’t say to me that Kobayashi is a top-drawer talent waiting for a good car.

        • rickyHd said on 20th August 2014, 23:09

          to be fair Keith PER good results whilst at sauber were a result of good luck and strategy, similar to RIC’s results this season, right place right time.

          Although i too agree, placed in a McLaren or a Ferrari this season and he’d do no better than the current drivers. Give him the Mercedes and he would win a race. Give Erricson the mercedes and he’d win a race… give Max Chilton the Mercedes and he might even score his first point!

        • Custard said on 20th August 2014, 23:15

          You need to look further than just the results to compare drivers. Perez was consistently performing but Kobayashi was sometimes outstanding. Look at the qualiyings first: 3rd at China, second and Spa (and then bowled out by grosjean) and 3rd at Suzuka. Perez was 5th at best. The races were more inconspicuous but he provided fantastic overtakes that no other driver would dare try.. meanwhile Perez tried to overtake Hamilton at “kobayashi corner” at suzuka and spun off, retiring. Watch the interlagos race to see Alonso getting his butt handed to him in the rain by kamui. I’m not a kobayashi fan but I can see what is justified and what isn’t, and your comment lacked justification.

          • Sergio Perez (@sergio-perez) said on 21st August 2014, 10:01

            Have to agree here. Perez achieved his results by qualifying further back and using risky, tyre managing strategies, while Kamui, having qualified further ahead, would have to follow a more conservative “follow the rest of the pack” ones. His Japanese Grand Prix podium was a true masterclass of driving in a strategy like the ones of the bigger teams- a front runner strategy. A regularly spectacular driver. Does he get into trouble with collisions? He does. But shouldn’t that be because he is a driver whose skill is beyond its car level and trying desperately to push to the limit? F1 needs drivers like Kamui. Definitely not overrated. I would say he is underrated. Give him a Sauber right now and I suspect he would bring it to the much needed points. Give him a Mclaren or a Williams and he would be fighting for victories. I would be willing to eat a HAT if these top teams where to accept this challenge. I know what I saw when I saw Kamui racing in the Macau GP. He’s up there with the Hamiltons, Vettels and Rosbergs . A Shame I’m not a “Helmut Marko” or I would definitely give him a chance in a top car!

  7. Witsinfr (@witsinfr) said on 20th August 2014, 12:13

    If Caterham are putting in Lotterer just for Spa, does this mean that they’ll be looking for other drivers that are ‘specifically skilled/knowledgeable’ for each future race?

  8. Hollidog said on 20th August 2014, 12:14

    He must have a Lotterer money lying around

  9. mattshaw85 (@mattshaw85) said on 20th August 2014, 12:16

    Seems a bit of a shame for someone of his calibre to come in as a back marker. I suppose it’d be something to say you’ve done how ever many le mans wins you have.

  10. Paul (@frankjaeger) said on 20th August 2014, 12:19

    Urgh Caterham..

  11. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 20th August 2014, 12:20

    I can’t believe Caterham’s words. Kobayashi is quite an experienced driver and just for that and the reason Lotterer has big rain skills to replace him for one race… Sounds ridiculus and like a statement from circus director. They could ditch Ericsson, which has just 11 race experience. I don’t see any other reason other than money. Caterham is turning into a joke, F1 actually does not need such teams.

    • Sharon H (@sharoncom) said on 20th August 2014, 12:31

      I would read into Caterham’s words that, for all his experience, Kobayashi does not give good technical feedback necessary for developing and setting up the car.

      • Hearing interviews with kobayashi i think that his rather crude English will be hurting his communication skills. And i always wondered how he could give detailed feedback with the lack of language skills on his side. I guess you now shown why i felt that way.

        • Sharon H (@sharoncom) said on 20th August 2014, 13:38

          Given all the money F1 drivers spend on personal trainers, you would think a competent translator would be a sound investment. Failing that, a decent English for Motorsport textbook.

    • Dan Brown (@danbrown180) said on 20th August 2014, 13:10

      Caterham are not turning F1 tin to a joke. They’re simply trying to survive, and what’s wrong with that?
      People are all up in arms about the overlooked Red Bull Junior drivers, but the fact is Red Bull have 2 teams, and 8 drivers good enough to race in F1. What do you do to get drivers in to the sport if the small teams can’t survive?

      We need more teams, not less.

  12. KKbiased said on 20th August 2014, 12:43

    Super Fomula driver result
    1. Kazuki Nakajima
    2. Andre Lotterer
    3. Loïc Duval
    10. Narain Karthikeyan
    11. Vitantonio Liuzzi

  13. Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair) said on 20th August 2014, 12:44

    WHY DIDN’T HE REPLACE ERICSSON! Argh that would have been 1 rubbish driver out of F1, 4 to go, but no. I’m starting to not care if Caterham leaves F1 if that makes sense.

  14. Brian (@bealzbob) said on 20th August 2014, 12:46

    Anyone know what number he will race under?

  15. Jack (@jmc200) said on 20th August 2014, 12:59

    I’ve heard many reports that say Kamui’s feedback is rubbish, partly due to his poor English skills. He’s fast, but come on guys, just because you’ve never heard of Andre doesn’t mean he’s a pay driver! He’s one of the best drivers in the world, and if he gives Caterham some good feedback for their new update, this makes perfect sense. I love Kamui, he’s such a nice guy, but he should have known that driving for free, and bringing almost no money to the team would be risky, I wonder if he’ll be able to be his AF Corse seat back?

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 20th August 2014, 13:25

      I’ve heard many reports that say Kamui’s feedback is rubbish, partly due to his poor English skills.

      But he spended most of his junior career in Europe, no? I think his English isn’t too bad.

      • Jack (@jmc200) said on 20th August 2014, 13:43

        I realised after I posted that that I should have actually posted to links to the stories that contain that. I’m trying to find them. But I’m not having a go, as I say, I love Kamui, he’s genuinely funny, a lovely guy and I agree with you that English isn’t that bad, but it’s not good either. I can’t think of any other reason to replace him other than for feedback, and as I said, Kamui is playing with fire, driving for free.

      • KKbiased said on 20th August 2014, 14:09

        Japanese fans sometimes say he seems to be poorer at Japanese than English.

      • Oli (@dh1996) said on 20th August 2014, 19:24

        It isn’t bad. He sometimes is a little hard to understand in interviews thanks to his accent but his english is not worse than, say, Alonsos’s. Just watch some interviews on YouTube.

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