Kamui Kobayashi will remain on board with the Caterham F1 Team for this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, the team has finally confirmed.
The Japanese driver’s future has been the subject of ongoing speculation since the team was sold by Tony Fernandes to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors. The Leafield team – then briefly headed by new Team Principal Christijan Albers – made it clear that it needed additional investment in order to develop is struggling CT05 racer, and that could come in the form of well-funded drivers.
Kobayashi was subsequently dropped from the team’s line-up at last month’s Belgian Grand Prix in order for Audi endurance ace André Lotterer to make his Grand Prix debut and give feedback on the team’s major upgrade package being introduced that weekend.
The team then sought to place Spanish racer Roberto Merhi in the seat for the Italian Grand Prix, only to have its attempts blocked when the FIA refused to issue the former Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion with a Super License. The seat was then offered to Lotterer, who opted out when the team made it clear that Merhi would still drive in Friday practice, and so Kobayashi was back behind the wheel in an eleventh-hour announcement.
The former Toyota and Sauber driver acquitted himself well in his first outing in the heavily-modified CT05, outqualifying and out-racing both Marussias around the high-speed Monza layout. He has earned himself another call-up for Singapore, which represents the best chance for the team to score its first ever points’ finish in what is typically a high-attrition race.
“I always like the Singapore Grand Prix because it’s a night race and its festive atmosphere is definitely one of the highlights of the season. It’s a very technical track, with lots of changes of direction, and it’s a challenging race for everyone,” the 28-year-old said.
“After finishing ahead of our closest rivals in Italy, I look forward to another good fight out on track in Singapore – it will be good to see what we are capable of with the updated car at the Marina Bay Street Circuit – at street circuits anything can happen and we need to make sure we do our best.”
While Kobayashi has never enjoyed the greatest of results around Marina Bay – his best finish in his three races here was 13th in 2012 for Sauber – teammate Marcus Ericsson has much happier memories from his GP2 Series days.
“Singapore is one of my favourite cities and I cannot wait for my first Formula One night race experience. It’s a circuit I know quite well – I’ve finished on the podium every time I’ve raced there with GP2, so it brings back very good memories,” the Swedish F1 rookie said.
“The track is bumpy and it reminds me a lot of Monaco, even though the Singapore layout is much more physical and requires double the amount of energy over a single lap compared to Monte Carlo. The heat and humidity also make it a tough race weekend, but I’ve been training hard to make sure I am ready for the challenge and I look forward to the weekend ahead.”
The Singapore Grand Prix will mark the third change in the outfit’s leadership, with deputy team principal Manfredo Ravetto stepping up to the top role following the sudden exit of Christijan Albers, whose wife is undergoing treatment for oesophageal cancer.
Images via XPB Images