January 22, 2013 — series release — Kevin Rodriguez Ortiz photo — LEAFIELD, UK — Caterham will field an all-new driver line-up this year after confirming that Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi and Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson will spearhead their 2014 campaign.
Kobayashi, 27, is a veteran of 60 Grand Prix starts and joins the Leafield-based team after spending a year away from F1, during which he raced sportscars for Ferrari. He made his F1 debut for Toyota in 2009, before spending three seasons at Sauber, the last of which, in 2012, yielded his only F1 podium finish to date in Japan.
“It’s a great feeling to be back as an F1 race driver and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham F1 Team,” said Kobayashi. “We’ve been talking to Cyril (Abiteboul, Caterham team principal) and Tony (Fernandes, Caterham chairman) since last year about driving for the team for 2014 and beyond.
“Throughout all our discussions I’ve been very impressed with where they want to take the team and how much investment has been made already to help them achieve their goals. For me, it’s a great honour that the team hired me based on the value I bring in racing terms and the experience I have.
“I am so happy that I am able to make this announcement today. I will do my very best to lead the team and work as hard as possible to achieve our targets.”
Ericsson, 23, steps up to Grand Prix racing from GP2 after spending four seasons in the junior category. His only F1 experience to date came in 2009 when he tested for Brawn GP shortly after winning the Japanese Formula Three crown.
“This is a very proud day for me and everyone who has helped make my F1 dream come true,” said Ericsson, who will be the first Swede to race in F1 since Stefan Johansson in 1991.
“I’ll be making the step up to F1 with Caterham F1 Team in 2014 and I’m already excited about the season ahead, and the first race in Australia in particular.
“It’s obviously great for Sweden that we’ll have a Swedish driver back on the grid in 2014. 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.
“Caterham is a young team and together we can take on the challenges the new rules will present in 2014 – learning together and continuing to develop as the season progresses.”
Team principal Cyril Abiteboul said he was delighted to finally reveal Caterham’s 2014 line-up after a period of lengthy deliberation.
“The process may have taken longer than we’d have liked, but we didn’t want or need to be rushed into such important decisions and we have been in the happy position of having a wide range of drivers to choose from,” he said.
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bring Kamui back. He is a very popular driver and it’s very good for the whole team we’ve been able to attract such an exciting driver to join us at a critical point in our development. His pace speaks for itself, and his extensive experience of developing cars, particularly in his years with Toyota, will be incredibly important for us as we tackle one of the most challenging seasons F1 has ever embarked upon.
“Alongside him is Marcus who will be racing in his debut F1 season in 2014, but as a driver who has prepared perfectly for the step up to F1 with his graduation through the ranks. He started his single-seat career by winning Formula BMW UK in 2007 and rose through the ranks to GP2 where, last year, he won in Germany, scored two poles, three fastest laps and five podiums. He’s physically and mentally prepared for what lies ahead, and he will have all the support we can give him across the team to help him fulfil his obvious potential in Formula One.”
Tuesday’s news means that all of the available seats on the 2014 grid have now been filled, leaving Caterham’s 2013 drivers, Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, and test driver Heikki Kovalainen without race drives.
Earlier on Tuesday it was announced that Van der Garde had concluded a deal to become Sauber’s new test and reserve driver, whilst Caterham’s 2014 reserve drivers will be Dutchman Robin Frijns and American Alexander Rossi.