Formula 1

Andre Lotterer to replace Kamui Kobayashi at Belgian GP

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Caterham have confirmed three-time Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer will replace Kamui Kobayashi for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Speculation had been swirling for a few days with some believing the German would take place in Friday's first practice session, however, the back-of-the-grid team has confirmed in fact Lotterer will drive all weekend.

All change at Caterham

The move at a time of huge change at the Leafield team. The outfit was recently sold to new owners by its creator Tony Fernandes, who brought the team into Formula 1 in 2010.

A number of employees were sacked as the new management looked to trim down the operational side and this weekend marks the first major upgrades brought to the car in several races.


That lack of development allied to the weaker Renault power unit, has seen 2014 become the most difficult year for the team since its arrival on the F1 grid.

For the first four years Caterham was seen as the most likely of the three new teams to become a success story, however, now it is Marussia who are knocking on the door of the midfield and who scored their first points ever thanks to Jules Bianchi's ninth place finish in Monaco.

Financially motivated?

While the new owners brought a much-needed injection of cash, and even though the team have not confirmed it is for this reason, Lotterer's apparent one-off F1 weekend at Spa appears to be financially motivated.

It would not be the first time this was the case, Caterham gave Indian driver Karun Chandhok a one-off race seat at the 2011 German Grand Prix for the same reason and the fact Lotterer has replaced Kobayashi, a driver who brings little financial backing, also appears to me to point to this idea.


In the press release confirming the news, Lotterer, who finished third with Audi at the 6 hours of Spa just a few weeks ago, was thankful for the opportunity Caterham have given him.

"I am delighted to be given the opportunity to take part in a Formula 1 race weekend - I want to thank Caterham F1 team for this chance," he told reporters. "I'm ready for this challenge and I cannot wait to jump in the car and make the most out of the weekend ahead."

Mountain to climb

For Lotterer, however, who had previously tested with Jaguar in 2002, the one-off race is also a huge mountain to climb as he adjusts to a very different car around one of the most demanding circuits on the schedule.

With so much work to do assessing the new upgrades coming for Spa, the 32-year-old admitted he would need to quickly adapt to the challenge.

"I will need to get settled and used to the car quickly, as the team has worked on a number of updates and we will need to have as much time as possible out on track to optimise the car's performance.

"I really enjoy racing at the legendary circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, it's one of my favourite tracks and it's very close to where I grew up, so this makes the weekend even more special and one to remember," he added.

As for Kobayashi, Caterham have said the Japanese driver remains a part of the team but whether we will see him back behind the wheel this year is currently unknown.

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