F1 2014 Driver Review: Kamui Kobayashi

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Kamui Kobayashi

Team: Caterham F1 Team
Car No.: 10
Races: 17
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 0
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 0
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 22nd

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

After spending a year with the works Ferrari AF Corse team in the World Endurance Championship, Kamui Kobayashi’s decision to return to F1 was a bold one. Caterham made it clear at the beginning of the year that finishing last again simply wasn’t acceptable; with Kobayashi at the helm, a brighter future was ahead.

From the start of testing though, it was clear that the team wasn’t going to be making waves any time soon. The peak of Kobayashi’s season came in Malaysia when he battled well to P13, but that was about it. He felt aggrieved when Jules Bianchi barged him out of the way at Monaco en route to points that would take Marussia above Caterham in the standings, but in reality, Kamui had little to cry about.

As Caterham’s financial situation worsened, Kobayashi became a second thought. He was benched at Spa to allow Andre Lotterer to make a one-off appearance, and only received a call on the Wednesday before the Italian Grand Prix to say he would be racing again – cue one hasty flight back from Japan.

It’s a shame that Kobayashi’s F1 career looks set to end this way, for he had plenty of potential. It was simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

One of F1’s most exciting drivers returned to the sport after a year’s hiatus, but sadly there were more fireworks around Kamui Kobayashi’s circumstances with Caterham than fireworks he was able to produce himself.

Things started ignominiously when Kobayashi said preseason a GP2 car would be faster. Then after gridding 14th in Melbourne – Caterham’s best start all season – his race ended in a first corner smash.  Five more retirements, a DNS and a one-race replacement later before returning at Abu Dhabi for the finale, Kobayashi had endured his most trying season yet in F1. He was at the center of the team’s financial straits when retiring from the race in Russia, and that was probably the standout talking point of his season.

Kobayashi’s presence in F1 is appreciated and as the lone Japanese driver in the field, he remains a vital link to that country’s engagement and support for the sport. But we’d rather see him in a situation where he can make the excitement happen from the midfield and up, rather than trundling around at the back.

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.