Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson to race for Caterham in 2014 Formula One season
- Credit: Archant
Kamui Kobayashi and rookie Marcus Ericsson have been confirmed as Hingham-backed Caterham's all-new driver line-up for the forthcoming Formula One season.
The duo have replaced the axed Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, with the latter joining Sauber as their test and reserve driver.
Kobayashi joins Caterham after a year out of F1 attempting to scrape together the money for his seat, having being released by Sauber at the end of 2012.
Meanwhile Ericsson has been signed up after four years in GP2, with his highest placing being sixth in last year's championship. Ericsson raced for two Norfolk teams in F1's feeder series, Carleton Rode's Isport and Griston-based Super Nova – now he will race for Hingham's Formula One team, who are now homed at Leafield near Silverstone.
As the last team to confirm their line-up, team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: 'The process may have taken longer than we'd have liked, but we didn't want or need to be rushed into such important decisions and we have been in the happy position of having a wide range of drivers to choose from. I believe we have exciting, dynamic talents.
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'I'm delighted we've been able to bring Kamui back. He is a very popular driver and it's very good for the whole team we've been able to attract such an exciting driver to join us at a critical point in our development.
'Marcus will be racing in his debut F1 season, but as a driver who has prepared perfectly for the step up to F1 with his graduation through the ranks. He's physically and mentally prepared for what lies ahead, and he will have all the support we can give him across the team to help him fulfil his obvious potential in Formula One.'
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Kobayashi started out at Toyota in 2009, deputising for an injured Timo Glock in the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, before switching to Sauber for three seasons from 2010.
Despite a career-high third in his home grand prix in Japan in 2012, Sauber's financial needs at the time forced them to drop the popular 27-year-old.
Kobayashi then turned to his fans and asked for donations on his personal website in a bid to acquire the necessary funds. They have certainly played a part in helping him return to F1, as he said: 'For me, it's a great honour the team hired me based on the value I bring in racing terms, and the experience I have. I will do my very best to lead the team and work as hard as possible to achieve our targets.
'I also want to give special thanks to all the fans who have made donations to Kamui Support. Their donations and gestures gave me extra strength to come back fighting and I am very pleased the money they raised not only helped me, but will now go to helping Caterham progress this year.
'Every single one of you who helped with Kamui Support will race with me in 2014 and that makes me very proud.'
At least with Kobayashi, Caterham have a degree of experience this year as opposed to their inexperienced line-up last season.
Kobayashi will play his part in helping 23-year-old Swede Ericsson, who makes the step up in a year when F1 udergoes a major revolution given the engine change.
'This is a very proud day for me and everyone who has helped make my F1 dream come true,' said Ericsson. 'I'm already excited about the season ahead, and the first race in Australia in particular.
'It's obviously great for Sweden, we'll have a Swedish driver back on the grid in 2014. This is what I've been working for since I first started racing karts back when I was nine years old, and now I know I'm ready for the step up to F1.'