Three-time Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer feels ready to make his Formula 1 debut this weekend with Caterham after securing an unusual deal to race in Belgium this weekend.
Caterham confirmed on Wednesday that Lotterer, pictured left, would be replacing full-time driver Kamui Kobayashi for the race at Spa-Francorchamps, allowing the team to draw on the German’s experience from his other racing escapades.
However, given that Lotterer has made his name in sportscars, and that he hasn’t tested an F1 car since 2002, there have been some questions about his suitability for the seat. He is unfazed by the prospect, though.
“For sure, it’s a big challenge,” he admitted to the media in Belgium. “I think you have to be quite brave to jump in like this in the middle of the season.
“The reasons I feel ready for it is that first of all I still race in single seaters, SuperFormula, which I believe is one of the fastest single seater series outside of Formula 1. In that sense, I’m not out of shape.
“And I’m racing really complex cars in the WEC with Audi. The last time I drove an F1 car was more than ten years ago. The sport changed and evolved, but on my side, for sure I gained a lot of experience as well.
“It’s something nice to do in my career and it’s a great opportunity. I thank Caterham a lot for this, and also Audi and Team Toms in Japan who have given me the freedom.”
Lotterer warned the F1 community not to expect too much from him, given that he has only tested the car on the team’s simulator and will get behind the wheel for the first time on Friday during practice.
“I will have to learn everything very fast so don’t expect too much from me,” he said. “Obviously, Formula 1 is largely dictated by the car, and we don’t have a winning car. We have an updated package and I hope I can bring all my experience and my speed, as fast as possible.
“It’s an unusual situation.”
Kobayashi is poised to return to the wheel of the Caterham for the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time. However, this weekend’s race will give us an interesting insight into how difficult it will be to make the transfer from sportscar to single seater racing, as well as showing what Lotterer himself is capable of behind the wheel of an F1 car.
As my MotorSportsTalk colleague Tony DiZinno wrote earlier today, his debut will be refreshing for both Caterham and Formula 1 as a whole.