Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Green day // Caterham rebrand, name new drivers and Fernandes pushes forward

Published by Christine

Caterham F1 logo

Caterham announced their chosen drivers for the 2014 F1 season today, becoming the last team to confirm their intentions. Despite consistency being one of the key things teams are looking for this year, the Leafield operation have opted for a complete overhaul, ditching their previous drivers for two brand new employees.

The star attraction is Kamui Kobayashi, who makes his return to Formula One after a year away. The Japanese racer was dropped from Sauber after the 2012 season and spent his gap year racing for Ferrari in the World Endurance Championship. He had some good results, with a highlight second place at the 6 Hours of Silverstone, as well as three further podium finishes throughout the year.

Despite being offered a contract to continue with the Italian team for another year, Kobayashi jumped at the chance of an F1 return. It's a risk to leave behind a fast and famous Ferrari and some reasonable endurance success in the hopes that he can help a backmarker F1 team pick up the pace, but Kobayashi is convinced its a risk worth taking. He admits he has unfinished business within the sport.

I am 27, I still need more to race in F1. That is why I chose to come back to F1. Ferrari offered me another contract, and Stefano is not happy I didn't take it. But it is only my decision to be here. I took a risk in my life but it is important for me.

- Kamui Kobayashi, F1 driver

Kobayashi also took time out to thank the fans who supported him during his F1 sabbatical, particularly those that raised funds for him to return. Kamui is reportedly not taking a salary from Caterham and paid them from money donated by his generous fanbase. He said: "Their donations and gestures gave me extra strength to come back fighting and I am very pleased that the money they raised not only helped me but will now go to helping Caterham progress this year."

Joining Kobayashi at the team will be young driver Marcus Ericsson, who has been participating in the GP2 series for the last four years. The Swedish driver brings the rookie tally for 2014 up to three, making his F1 debut after a few test outings over the past few years. The team claim this demonstrates "the logic of Caterham's direct involvement in that F1 feeder Championship" although Ericsson didn't drive for them in GP2, and their own Caterham Racing driver Alexander Rossi remains in the feeder series for the coming year.

Marcus Ericsson's first Caterham shoot
New boy EricssonCredit: Caterham F1

Along with the all-new driver lineup comes a refreshed image for Caterham, as they unveiled a new lime green brand. With the Union flag turning green overnight, the new colours are startling to the eye but certainly very memorable. Team boss Tony Fernandes claims the brand is one that "puts a smile on people's faces" but I'm not so sure this change achieves that goal.

New deals were confirmed, boosting their technical department, plus CFD and supercomputer usage, and crucially for on-track performance, moving their wind tunnel department from Williams to Toyota Motorsport (TMG).

The TMG facility allows us to run at 60% scale, more than the 50% scale we have been using to date, and that has obvious benefits in increasing the accuracy of the data generated in the tunnel.

- Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal

Naturally, the team are hoping that the improvements to their facilities will bring them closer to their first championship point, something they have been searching for since their arrival in Formula One in 2010. Each year has seen the team launch with the aim of closing the gap to the midfield runners, and picking up that hoped for point. However, the performance so far just hasn't delivered, and their best result to date is a best-of-the-rest 11th at the closing race in Brazil 2012.

Tony Fernandes addresses Leafield
Fernandes addresses the troopsCredit: Caterham F1

With close rivals Marussia overtaking them in the championship for the first time last year, Caterham know they need to up their game. These aren't just idle dreams, either. Tony Fernandes has issued the team with something of a threat, suggesting he'll pull the plug if they don't start to see results.

If we're at the back I don't think I'm going to carry on. Nothing is set in stone, but after five years with no points there is a limit to one's patience, money, motivation, etc. So it's an important year. I need to feel like we're going somewhere.

- Tony Fernandes, CEO

There's every chance that they might break through to the top ten this year, with the many upheavals throughout the sport raising questions about reliability and unpredictability, but there's now an awful lot of pressure on the team's shoulders.

They're contending with new regulations, a brand new engine, two totally new drivers (one of whom is rookie with a hefty learning curve), a new wind tunnel, and a considerable GP2 campaign. On top of all that comes the word from on high that everything counts on this year being a good one, else the factory may be closing its doors. 2014 is going to have to be stellar for the Caterham team.

All content in the series 2014 F1 launches