Second chances don't come around too often in F1, and even less often for those without the financial clout to buy their way back into a seat, which makes Kamui Kobayashi's return to the fray in Melbourne next weekend a little more special.

The Japanese ace thought his time in the top flight was over when a lack of funding forced him out of the Sauber team at the end of 2012 - ironically must a matter of weeks after taking his one and, to date, only podium finish. Linking up with Ferrari, he ventured into GT racing last season, and was being paid for his services, but could not resist the lure of F1 and, when fans' fundraising efforts - which began in an effort to keep him on the grid in 2013 - finally realised an amount sufficient to help his cause, Kobayashi was able to land that elusive second chance.

"I'm excited about getting back to racing F1 cars again," he enthused, "Last time I raced in Melbourne, I was sixth and, while I don't think that's a realistic target for us this year, I think the race will be very interesting.

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"Obviously for me this is my first race back, and I'm really pleased it's with Caterham. I guarantee that they are working as hard as anyone else to have a good year in 2014 and I've been very impressed with how determined they are to succeed. They have a very good base to work from in Leafield, so there's no reason we can't have a good year, particularly with what we have planned to improve the car as the season goes on."

Like the rest of the field, and especially those using Renault's new-for-2014 'power unit', Caterham and Kobayashi have endured a problematic build-up to Melbourne, but the former GP2 Asia Series champion is optimistic that the team's efforts can be rewarded.

"There could be reliability problems for lots of teams - and us as well, obviously - but, by the end of the tests, our reliability was okay. [It was] certainly better than a few other teams, and that could be very important on Sunday in Melbourne.

"We still don't know exactly where we are on performance, partly because you never do in tests because you don't know what everyone else is doing, but also because we didn't really have a chance to do a proper qualifying simulation in Bahrain. We have some new parts coming to Australia, including some revisions to the front wing, so we'll be working on them on Friday and Saturday morning and know more about where we are when qualifying's finished on Saturday."