Report: A return to F1 in Kamui Kobayashi’s future?

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Former Toyota and Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi could be making a trip back to Formula One in 2014.

Since departing from Hinwil in 2012, Kobayashi has been driving a Ferrari for AF Corse in the FIA World Endurance Championship and didn’t do badly with four podium finishes this past season. But Autoweek contributor Adam Cooper is now reporting that the Japanese driver may be on his way to Caterham, which has both of its 2014 seats open.

Kobayashi has 60 F1 starts to his credit with a best finish of third in the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix (pictured), so he checks off the experience box that Caterham presumably has on its driver wish list.

The quality is always handy to have but it may be even more important for the team should they opt to put GP2’s Marcus Ericsson into its second car over Giedo van der Garde, who improved nicely over the second half of 2013.

Cooper also relays word from sources that Kobayashi is bringing about $6 million in funding, which could also be a factor in his favor after Caterham lost out on a sizable batch of revenue when Marussia claimed 10th in the constructors’ championship.

With Kobayashi now in play, it would appear that Charles Pic’s grip on an F1 drive is less solid now. He told a French newspaper recently that he knew a final choice from Caterham would take time.

“Small teams in particular wait for the decisions of their more competitive rivals,” he said about the situation. “For me, it would be logical to stay at Caterham, but you can never be sure about anything in Formula One.

“The contract with Caterham is my first priority, but there are other options.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.