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Kobayashi ditches Ferrari deal to drive for free with Caterham F1


Japanese F1 driver, Kamui Kobayashi, has just signed a new deal with Formula One (F1) strugglers, Caterham F1, for free. The Japanese driver, who has previously driven for Toyota F1 and Sauber prior his hiatus in 2013, was too eager to rejoin F1 hence he admitted that he turns off an expanded deal with Ferrari in order to get back into the F1 action. All this made possible thanks to the funds donated by his fans to help him pay for a seat in F1.

Previously during the end of the F1 2012 season, despite scoring a podium finish in the Japanese GP he was ditched by team Sauber – in favor of young Mexican, Esteban Gutiérrez, who has funding as his backing. With no drive in 2013, Kobayashi signed for Ferrari to drive the 458 GT in endurance racing in the World Endurance Championship.

He had been offered another Ferrari contract for sportscars – as well as an expanded role on the F1 team that included simulator work, although he has to play not second, but third fiddle to Ferrari’s drivers, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. Despite a possible job security with Ferrari, Kobayashi has never given up his F1 aspirations, hence he has approached Caterham owner Tony Fernandes to persuade him for a race seat in 2014.


Asked if he told Tony Fernandes that he would drive for free, the young Japanese agreed, adding “I’ll do my job. I’m very happy driving and I want to be successful in this team.” He added that “I feel that I’m 27 and I still needed to do Formula One… I’ve taken a risk of course, but it’s very important for me. And of course Caterham needs some different energy and I think that my experience is quite useful for this team, so we’ll see what I can do but I am quite confident.”

“I don’t care about the money,” Kobayashi said. “I just want to be successful in my life and I want to bring the team success. This is my goal … I just say what I can do, I don’t need money.”

Kobayashi’s decision did not please Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali, but this is a delight for Tony Fernandes, who has an experienced F1 driver to drive for free. Fernandes mentioned that “Whether I get a million [pounds], half a million or two million – in the scheme of things – makes no difference when you’re talking about £80million budgets. So what we thought Kamui brought is maybe that little bit of spark, something that you can’t really quantify. Something that motivates the rest of the team to say: ‘We’ve got a chance now; we’ve got a warrior who is going to go in there to do whatever to move this team up.’ That drives people a little bit more.”

Kobayashi, will be partnering with Swedish rookie, Marcus Ericsson for Caterham’s assault in 2014. Personally, I’m glad to see the return of Kobayashi, who is perhaps the greatest Japanese driver ever to grace F1. Where many Asian drivers fell flat in F1, he is the one whose courageous overtaking stunts and never give up attitude have won him fans worldwide. Despite it’s pity that he has to resort to pay his F1 seat and getting no salary in order to pursue his F1 dreams, it will be a worthy one. Let’s hope his energy with the Caterham team will remain as high as his desire to be in F1.

[Image Source: Caterham F1]