Driving the green and yellow cars next year will be Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson. The latter Swede will be making his F1 debut as a rookie this year, graduating from several seasons in the GP2 series and titles in Formula BMW UK and Japanese Formula Three before that. The former's name, however, may ring a bell or two.
Kamui Kobayashi worked his way up in many of the same feeder series as his new teammate, but advanced to Formula One in 2009 when he filled in for Timo Glock, driving the last couple of races for Toyota before it shut down its team for good. Kobayashi then drove three seasons for Sauber, scoring a single podium finish at the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix. He later dropped out of F1 to drive a Ferrari for the AF Corse team in the FIA World Endurance Championship – including a drive at Le Mans.
This isn't the first time the Caterham team has opted to shake up its driver lineup altogether. After racing for two seasons under the Lotus banner with Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, the team dumped Jarno for newcomer Vitaly Petrov, then ditched both to bring on rookies Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. The decision to hire new drivers once again leaves both former drivers scrambling for new rides, van der Garde already signing on as Sauber's test driver and Pic switching management in pursuit of a new contract.
Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Racing Announce 2014 F1 and GP2 Driver Line-Ups
Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Racing have confirmed their 2014 driver line-ups with the announcement that Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson will race in Formula One in the forthcoming season, with Robin Frijns and Alexander Rossi as F1 team Reserve Drivers. In addition, Alexander and Rio Haryanto will contest the 2014 GP2 honours with Caterham Racing.
Kobayashi joins the UK-based team after one season out of F1, rejoining the sport as it heads towards a new era in F1 history with all-new rules for the season ahead. The popular Japanese driver joins F1 rookie Marcus Ericsson in an exciting, dynamic line-up that will push the team to achieve its targets throughout the season ahead while giving, for the second year running, an opportunity for a leading GP2 driver to make the step up to F1, demonstrating the logic of Caterham's direct involvement in that F1 feeder Championship. Supporting them at all non-GP2 races as Reserve Driver will be Robin Frijns, one of motorsport's most highly-rated young drivers.
Alexander Rossi renews his GP2 challenge with Caterham Racing and, after finishing the 2013 season as best rookie, he will start the new season as a serious championship contender. He will combine his GP2 commitments with another year as a Reserve Driver for Caterham F1 Team at all non-GP2 race weekends, continuing his development towards an ultimate race drive in Formula One. Alexander is joined by Rio Haryanto, the Indonesian driver who has progressed in GP2 since his first season in the series in 2012 and who, with Alexander, makes one of the strongest driver pairings in the championship.
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal and CEO, Caterham F1 Team: "I'm very pleased we can finally unveil our F1 and GP2 drivers for the year ahead. 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 for both series. I believe that we have exciting, dynamic talents in both F1 and GP2 and I know just how excited everyone in the F1 team and Caterham Racing are about working with all five drivers.
"In F1, 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 that 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, but as a driver who has prepared perfectly for the step up with his graduation through the ranks. He started his single-seater 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.
"Robin is another new addition to our driver roster and he comes to us as one of the most highly-rated talents around - just look at how he dominated the two Renault-backed series he competed in during the 2012 and 2013 seasons for clear evidence of that. He won Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2011, recording five wins that year, and then he won Formula Renault 3.5 in 2012, putting three more victories on the board. He has raw pace and impressed our engineers enormously with the sessions he's completed in our simulator - put simply, he has the talent to go right to the top of our sport. He will be our Reserve at all races where Alexander is focused on GP2 and he will have a number of F1 runs throughout the year, immersing him in the F1 team and helping him develop his understanding of what it takes to operate at the top level.
"In GP2, we want to be competing for race wins and titles from the first race. Alexander showed last year that he's ready to make a push for the championship, and we're continuing his F1 development in 2014 by combining his GP2 commitments with another year as an F1 team Reserve Driver. I firmly believe he has the talent to achieve the ambitious targets we are setting him and I'm excited about seeing him fulfil his potential in GP2 this year.
"Rio joins the team with two years of GP2 already under his belt and he and Alexander make a formidable pairing - we're all excited about seeing them and the team add to Caterham Racing's already crowded trophy cabinet and use that as a benchmark for the F1 team!
"By any measure, we have an exciting range of drivers across F1 and GP2 who will make headlines for both teams throughout the year - sometimes because they're pushing a bit too hard, but, on balance, that's what motor racing needs. Our F1 team will benefit enormously from having Kamui and Marcus spearhead our challenge in 2014 - they provide powerful motivation for us to renew our efforts to succeed throughout the season ahead and demonstrate that our shareholders and senior management know what it takes to progress.
"Overall, I'm pleased that we're able to give all five of the drivers we'll work with in F1 and GP2 the platform to show what they can do on a global stage and I'm excited about seeing all of them develop in green throughout the year ahead."
Caterham F1 Team
Kamui Kobayashi: "It's a great feeling to be back as an F1 race driver and I'm really pleased it's with Caterham F1 Team. We've been talking to Cyril and Tony 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.
"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.
"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. For me, it's a chance to start again with a new team but one that's serious about progressing. For the team, 2014 is the first chance to show what they can do with all the people and infrastructure they've built up in Leafield since moving there in 2012.
"I can't wait to start work again. One of the benefits of making this announcement so close to the start of the tests means I only have a few days to wait to get back on track! Before then I'll be at the factory as much as possible, working in the simulator and with everyone there to prepare as much as we can for the tests in Jerez and Bahrain. Physically and mentally I'm fully prepared, now I just want to get back to work!"
Marcus Ericsson: "This is a very proud day for me and everyone who has helped make my F1 dream come true. 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.
"After a good break at home over Christmas, the hard work has already started. My physical fitness has always been good but I've been working even more on that since the discussions with Caterham began. I'm going to be in the factory in Leafield as much as I can before and during the tests in Spain and Bahrain so I can play an active role in helping understand the 2014 car, and what we need to do to unlock its performance. We have a big task in front of us but it's an exciting one, and one both the team and I are ready for."
Robin Frijns: "I am more than happy that Caterham and Renault have given me the chance to be in Formula One in 2014. Nowadays it's rare to find an F1 team that will put so much trust in a young driver like me, but during the negotiations I had a very strong feeling that the team really believes in me, which I couldn't appreciate more! This was one of the main reasons why Caterham has been my number one priority for quite a while and I am so thankful that it worked out.
"There are many good reasons to believe that Caterham will be moving up the grid in the next few years and I feel that every member of the team is strongly committed and really working hard to make that happen. Also, when I visited the factory for the first time, I saw that the working atmosphere in Leafield is very positive, which gave me a good feeling right away. My personal goal for this season is to help the team as much I can and also gain valuable experience to make sure that I can establish myself in the team and in F1. I am sure that we will have many great years together."
EQ8 Caterham Racing
Alexander Rossi: "I am pleased to be back with Caterham Racing for 2014 fighting for the GP2 championship. My 2013 program had some changes which meant I missed the pre-season tests and a couple of the early GP2 races, however, throughout the season the team and I made some big progress and by Abu Dhabi we were definitely one of the cars to beat. This continued in the post-season tests and I'm quite confident about the pace in 2014.
"As returning Caterham F1 Team Reserve Driver my duties will continue with F1 outings, my role as simulator driver and on track reserve for non-GP2 weekends. This is the perfect development for a future F1 race drive as I play an important role in assisting the team develop its 2014 car, something that will be particularly important with the 2014 technical changes.
"I have to thank everyone involved at Caterham and Team Rossi for making this happen. We have a fantastic chance to win the GP2 title in 2014, while the F1 team achieves its goals of moving forward. This is an important era for all of us, as the sport enters a new generation. What a great way to start 2014!"
Rio Haryanto: "It is a great feeling to sign with Caterham Racing for my 2014 GP2 campaign. After such a successful post-season test with the team in Abu Dhabi and the possible Formula One opportunities, this was the obvious choice for me. The team atmosphere immediately filled me with confidence and I am sure that this new chapter, with a new team is going to bring success.
"I am also looking forward teaming up with Alexander Rossi. We are both strong championship contenders and with our GP2 experience, we will work together to fight for both the team and driver championships. My ultimate goal is to finish the season as high as possible in the 2014 GP2 championship and give myself the best possible chance of a full time Formula One seat in 2015."
Mia Sharizman, EQ8 Caterham Racing Team Principal: "I am delighted to announce that Alexander will continue with us into 2014, and that Rio is joining our team. This announcement also means that we can focus on our 2014 preparations much earlier than we have been able to in previous years. Our team has undergone a number of changes since the end of the 2013 season which we believe gives us the capability to have our best season to date, and to build on our previous championship results.
"Our plan for Alexander in 2014 is part of a two-year GP2 programme. After finishing 2013 as top rookie it is now time for him to mount a challenge for the championship, and with the experience he has gained and the increased support he will have in 2014, I believe that the championship is a realistic target.
"Racing alongside Alexander will be Rio Haryanto. Having Rio join the Caterham family is the result of a lot of hard work over the last two years, in which time we have seen Rio develop into one of the most promising Asian racing drivers in the world. His experience in GP2 will help the team develop further and having two strong, consistent and quick race drivers will help us achieve our goals. Rio is a determined young man and he returns to GP2 with the aim of being a strong championship contender alongside his teammate."