Kobayashi makes Formula 1 comeback with Caterham

By on Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team

Kamui Kobayashi will return to Formula 1 this season after signing a deal to race with Caterham.

Kobayashi drove for Toyota at the end of 2009 before racing for Sauber between 2010 and 2012.

He failed to find a seat in Formula 1 for 2013 and instead raced for Ferrari in the World Endurance Championship, alongside a couple of Formula 1 outings for the team.

Kobayashi will race alongside Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson. The Japanese driver will race the #10 car this year.

Caterham's announcement completes this season's F1 line-up, ahead of winter testing beginning next Tuesday at Jerez.

"It’s a great feeling to be back as an F1 race driver and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham," he said.

"We’ve been talking since last year about driving for the team for 2014 and beyond and 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 and 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."

"I first visited the factory in Leafield just before Christmas and it’s clear how hungry the whole team is to make progress. Last year was a tough season but the new rules this year mean that everyone in F1 is starting again and that means everybody has a chance to improve."

"From what I’ve seen, Caterham now has everything in place to progress this year and for many seasons to come. We’re all realistic about what we can actually achieve this year, and until we’ve run the car properly at the tests it’s still too early to see where we are compared to the other teams, but whatever happens we have to move forwards this year."

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul says that Kobayashi's experience of developing cars will be crucial for Caterham.

"I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bring Kamui back," he said.

"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."

Fans support

Kobayashi says that the support from his fans aided him in his quest to return to the sport.

Kobayashi set up a support fund towards the end of 2012 with a bid to it helping him in time for 2014.

"I also want to give special thanks to all the fans who have made donations to 'Kamui Support'. 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."

Kobayashi in Formula 1

Kobayashi spent a few seasons in GP2 but he received his break when Timo Glock was injured during qualifying for the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix.

Glock was forced to miss the final two races of the year and Kobayashi drove in his place. The Japanese driver made an instant impact with his aggressive approach and fended off champion elect Jenson Button for a large part of the race in Brazil.

Toyota withdrew from the sport at the end of 2009 but Kobayashi found refuge with Sauber. He endured a difficult start to the year but the car improved, with Kobayashi claiming a best of sixth in Germany.

Kobayashi scored points in the first seven races of 2011 - albeit he was disqualified for a technical infringement in Australia - but his form dipped and he ended the season with fewer points than in 2010.

Sauber improved in 2012 and Kobayashi occasionally utilised the car to maximum effect. He qualified on the front row in Belgium but was eliminated in the first corner accident. The high point of his career came in Japan when he held off Jenson Button to finish on the podium at his home race. He ended the year - as he did in 2010 and 2011 - in 12th place in the championship.

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