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.

Lauda labels Verstappen USGP penalty ‘the worst I’ve ever seen’

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Mercedes Formula 1 non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has called the FIA stewards’ decision to penalize Max Verstappen for his last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as “the worst I’ve ever seen”.

Verstappen charged from 16th on the grid to take third place from Raikkonen on the last lap after a stunning fight through the field, completing the fightback with a bold pass in the final sector.

However, the stewards stripped Verstappen of P3 after he appeared to put all four wheels off the circuit when riding the kerb to pass Raikkonen, causing outcry in the F1 community.

Speaking to reporters after the race in Austin, Lauda condemned the stewards’ decision, slamming them for interfering in the late fight.

“We had meetings at the start of the year to see how far stewards should go in decisions during a race because it always says ‘under investigation’,” Lauda said, as quoted by Crash.net.

“So we complained about that and we agreed all together that the stewards would not interfere – very simple.

“If the driver goes over another and upside down, only then would they weigh in. That was at the beginning of last year.

“For six months it was OK, but this decision was the worst I’ve ever seen. He did nothing wrong.”

Lauda said F1 team bosses would discuss stewarding at the next Strategy Group meeting, which is due to be held in the next two weeks.

“These are racing drivers. We are not on the normal roads and it is ridiculous to destroy the sport with these kind of decisions,” Lauda said.

“At the next strategy meeting, we will put it back on the agenda and start all over again, because we cannot do that.

“They go too far and interfere and there was nothing to interfere with. It was normal overtaking.”