Who could be racing for Caterham in Abu Dhabi?

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Following Friday’s announcement that Caterham will now be lining up on the grid for the final race of the Formula 1 season, a number of questions have been brought up, largely surrounding the long-term future of the team and the suitability of its crowdfunding project.

However, with Marcus Ericsson confirming that he has cut all ties with Caterham ahead of his move to Sauber, the backmarkers will need to draft in at least one replacement for the final round in Abu Dhabi.

So who could be the drivers that do indeed line up on the grid in Abu Dhabi?

Kamui Kobayashi

The Japanese driver was supposed to be Caterham’s leading light in 2014, not being a conventional pay driver and instead being hired for his talents. However, he has since become something of a second thought for Caterham. In Belgium, he was dropped for Andre Lotterer, and was not set to race in Italy before being called on Wednesday in Japan and told to get on the next flight so he could race. Kobayashi could race in Abu Dhabi, but only if Caterham can’t find a higher bidder.

Andre Lotterer

Following his one-off appearance at Spa, Lotterer turned down a second race for Caterham at Monza, instead choosing to focus on his WEC commitments with Audi. The German has been offered the chance to race in Abu Dhabi, according to Autosport, and said he is not sure if he will take it up. With the WEC finale in Brazil just one week later, it might be a bit of a stretch for Lotterer.

Roberto Merhi

Merhi is perhaps the most likely candidate for the seat alongside Kobayashi, having enjoyed a very successful practice run-out at Monza in September. The Spaniard reportedly has a deal to race in Abu Dhabi, so expect him to make his F1 debut. After considering quitting motorsport at the beginning of the year, making his F1 debut would be the perfect way to mark a huge turnaround in events.

Max Chilton

This is more of a ‘two and two makes four’ deduction, but the outcast Marussia driver may look to make an F1 return in Abu Dhabi. Neither party has said that it will happen, but if Chilton is looking to use his budget to secure a seat for the final race of the year, he would be a very viable option for Caterham.

Jolyon Palmer

Again, this is more based on logic than anything, but if GP2 champion Palmer was looking to make his F1 debut early, he could give himself a very busy weekend in Abu Dhabi by vying for the seat. However, he might think it better to bide his time and work on a package over the winter to find a place on the grid for 2015.

Alice Powell

Largely unknown in the US, Alice Powell enjoyed a successful junior career in the UK before taking part in some GP3 races last season. Reports suggested that her family was putting together a package for her to take part in FP1 in Abu Dhabi, but without a super licence, and far bigger offers on the table, this is a long shot if there ever was one.

Ultimately, the seats will go to the highest bidders, so in reality, it is a very open fight. With more staff being made redundant earlier this week, though, it seems that making the grid in Abu Dhabi may only paper over some of the cracks at Caterham.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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