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.