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 Formula One World Championship campaign.
Kobayashi, 27, is a veteran of 60 Grand Prix starts and joins the Leafield-based team after spending a year away from F-1, during which he raced sportscars for Ferrari. He made his F-1 debut for Toyota in 2009, before spending three seasons at Sauber, the last of which, in 2012, yielded his only F-1 podium finish to date in Japan.
“It’s a great feeling to be back as an F-1 race driver and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham F-1 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 F-1 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 F-1 since Stefan Johansson in 1991. “I’ll be making the step up to F1 with Caterham F-1 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 F-1. 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,” Abiteboul said.