F1 2014 Driver Review: Andre Lotterer

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Andre Lotterer

Team: Caterham F1 Team
Car No.: 45
Races: 1
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 0
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 0
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 24th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Andre Lotterer’s debut certainly came out of left field, given that he last piloted an F1 car in 2003 and he had since made his name in sportscars with Audi, but it was refreshing to see someone from another discipline try his hand in Formula 1.

With Caterham, Lotterer didn’t stand a great chance of making a huge impression, but he did manage to outqualify Marcus Ericsson despite the Swede having 11 races in the Caterham car under his belt up to that point. It was an impressive result, even if his race lasted just a single lap due to a problem on the car.

Lotterer was offered more races, but turned them down. He had made his F1 debut and tried his hand in the top single seater series – it was all he needed to do.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Andre Lotterer certainly didn’t need to make his F1 debut to add to his glowing resume in Le Mans lore and in Super Formula in Japan, but when asked if he was up for it at Spa, he jumped at the chance. Granted, Caterham’s financial waters were starting to seem murky at the time and Lotterer really had nothing to gain from the experience, but he seized the moment. The German outqualified teammate Marcus Ericsson by nearly a second and didn’t get to finish ahead of him afterwards as his car quit on him on his opening lap. But he had enjoyed the weekend.

Much had changed for the German in-between when he was on the doorstep of an F1 career in 2002 and 2003, with Jaguar, and where he is today. Who knows whether Jaguar would have ever given him an opportunity, and where that might have led given the team’s evolution into the Red Bull juggernaut. But Lotterer can now say he’s started a Grand Prix, and can add that stat to a career that has became so successful in other disciplines.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994