Kamui Kobayashi back in at Caterham for Italian GP

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Kamui Kobayashi will return to his race seat for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix after being benched by Caterham in Belgium.

The Japanese racer returned to Formula 1 at the beginning of the year after a season in sportscars, but following the sale of the team to a Swiss-Arab consortium, his place has been at risk.

For the Belgian Grand Prix, Kobayashi was dropped in favor of three-time Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer, allowing the German to make his F1 debut. It is thought that he was also offered the seat for the race at Monza this weekend, only to turn it down.

The plan originally appears to have been to give 23-year-old Roberto Merhi his F1 debut, but he will only take part in FP1 for Caterham as he has not yet obtained an FIA superlicense required to take part in a race.

As a result, Kobayashi will return to his seat this weekend, but it could be his final race of the season if Merhi manages to secure his superlicense by the time we head to Singapore in two weeks’ time.

“I am working for Caterham F1 Team and I always respect team decisions,” Kobayashi said. “Now I am back in the car and looking forward to going racing again.

“We have worked hard as a team and added performance to the car as well as bringing new updates since I last drove in Hungary before the summer break, so I’m looking forward to feeling the updates on track here in Monza.

“I always enjoy the Italian GP, not only because of its high-speed nature; I also like the Italian fans, they are always very enthusiastic and a very big part of the Italian GP weekend. They create a very special atmosphere.”

Merhi will replace Kobayashi for the first session on Friday at Monza. Marcus Ericsson will continue to run in the #10 car as normal.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”