Caterham announce new drivers
Kamui Kobayashi and rookie Marcus Ericsson have been confirmed as Caterham's all-new driver line-up for the forthcoming Formula One season.
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The duo have replaced the axed Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, the latter joining Sauber as that team's test and reserve driver.
Kobayashi joins Caterham after a year out of F1 attempting to scrape together the money for his seat after being released by Sauber at the end of 2012.
Ericsson, meanwhile, has been signed up after four years in GP2, with his highest placing being sixth in last year's championship.
As the last team to confirm their line-up, team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: "I'm very pleased we can finally unveil our F1 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. I believe we have exciting, dynamic talents.
"I'm delighted 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.
"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'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."
Kobayashi started out at Toyota in 2009, deputising for an injured Timo Glock in the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, before switching to Sauber for three seasons from 2010.
Despite a career-high third in his home grand prix in Japan in 2012, Sauber's financial needs at the time forced them to drop the popular 27-year-old.
Kobayashi then turned to his fans and asked for donations on his personal website in a bid to acquire the necessary funds.
They have certainly played a part in helping him return to F1, as the Japanese has revealed he will not be receiving a penny for driving for the team in 2014.
"It is good they (the fans) are still supporting me. Japanese fans are definitely happy I've managed to get this seat," said Kobayashi.
"The one-year break from F1 was good, driving GT Pro, it was quite a high level of racing which I enjoyed.
"But I am only 27. I still need to race in F1 and that is why I chose to come back.
"Ferrari offered me another contract, and Stefano (Domenicali, team principal) is not happy I didn't take it, but it is my decision.
"I'm taking a risk in my life which is important for me, and Caterham needs different energy.
"So I don't need or care about money. I just want to drive and help the team, to be successful in my life and to bring the team success.
"So I am racing for free, my decision, my appoach because I want to do this job. This appeals to Tony (Fernandes, team owner), this was my message to Tony, and he is happy about that."
Whilst an obviously agreeable option for Fernandes, the Malaysian entrepreneur insists his decision to hire Kobayashi was more to do with his passion to return to F1.
"Whether I save half a million (pounds), £1million or £2million, in the scheme of things makes no difference when you're talking about an £80million budget," said Fernandes.
"What we thought Kamui would bring is a little bit of a spark, that something you can't really quantify, something that motivates the 250 people (within the team) to say 'we've a chance now, we've a warrior who is going to go in there and do whatever it takes to move this team up'.
"That drives people a little bit more so that's the main reason we have taken him, and we've seen him on the track. It's well documented he goes for it.
"So Kamui was not really a financial consideration, although there are of course benefits as he's from Japan, he's Asian, so there are some business angles for me."
At least with Kobayashi Caterham have a degree of experience this year, as opposed to their inexperienced line-up last season.
Kobayashi will play his part in helping 23-year-old Swede Ericsson, who makes the step up in a year when F1 udergoes a major revolution given the engine change.
"This is a very proud day for me and everyone who has helped make my F1 dream come true," said Ericsson.
"I'm already excited about the season ahead, and the first race in Australia in particular.
"It's obviously great for Sweden, 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."