Exclusive Q&A: Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson on joining Caterham for 2014
Japanese driver returns to the sport after a season spent in sportscars, whilst Swede graduates from GP2 Series
By William Esler
Last Updated: 22/01/14 3:24pm
Craig Slater: Was it hard to get yourself back into F1?
Kamui Kobayashi: "I think Formula 1 right now is really difficult for everybody to get seats unless you are a top driver with a top team. For us it is not easy. So I saw this as my last chance and I tried and I spoke to Tony [Fernandes] and he gave me this opportunity. I think this opportunity can be a very big change for my life."
CS: Fans around the world started fundraising for you - do you have any idea how much they ended up raising in the end?
KK: "It is difficult to say because the Japanese yen is getting so cheap! But for sure after one year more than £1 million, which is not a bad result from fan donation. Unfortunately it is not enough to get a seat, this £1 million, but hopefully this is a good indication and a message to Tony Fernandes as I can say 'I have a lot of fans and I want to do this job and make Caterham a top team in the future' and he was pretty happy with what I said and that is why I am here now."
CS: This team are still looking for their first points - will your best chance be at the start of the season when others might have unreliability? Do you have to hit the ground running this year?
KK: "That is maybe just luck if it happens like that, but at the end of this season maybe that will not be enough for what we want. It is very important how much we can force the development and how good a car we can bring at the end of the season. It is about team confidence and this will bring more confidence to the team and maybe next year can be stronger.
"But to score one point by luck with the performance staying the same - it does not show the team is improving. I don't want to see that, I want to see the team really competitive and everybody more confident. I think that is the most important thing that we want and that is why I am here."
CS: Marcus you have your big opportunity, but F1 is a ruthless business. What would represent a good first season in your eyes?
Marcus Ericsson: "First of all I am really pleased to be here - it is a compliment to drive for them in 2014. I think for me this year it will be important to learn as much as I can from Kamui - I am really happy to have him as a team-mate with all his experience - and obviously I will learn from him and work very closely with him and we will try to push the team up the grid and then we will see where we are on track at the tests and the first couple of races."
CS: Kamui is a driver that has been on the podium and qualified at the sharp end of the grid. Do you hope by the end of the season you can be on a par with him? When do you hope to be on competitive terms with him?
ME: "Of course you always want to try and beat your team-mate, but I have a lot of respect for Kamui and I need to learn from him and his experience. But of course through this year I would like to try and beat him."
CS: What are the key things you will have to learn? Even with your background in GP2, it is going to be a steep learning curve for you.
ME: "Yeah, it is going to be a big challenge for me this season - especially at the beginning. But I think one of the things is that 2014 brings completely new rules and even the experienced guys will have to start from a new page, so I think it is a good opportunity to come in new to F1."