Andre Lotterer has been confirmed as team-mate to Marcus Ericsson at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, replacing Kamui Kobayashi in the Caterham line-up.
The move had been rumoured earlier in the week, as F1 returned from its summer break, with three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer tipped to make a belated grand prix debut having been a member of Jaguar's test and development squad some twelve years ago. The move confirms Kobayashi's belief that he would not see out the 2014 campaign, although the team has confirmed that the Japanese veteran will return to the cockpit in time for next month's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
“The team will benefit from having another experienced driver at the wheel of the car throughout the [Belgian] weekend and Lotterer's feedback will contribute to improve the performance of the car,” a Caterham statement explained, “The weather also plays a big role at Spa-Francorchamps and Lotterer is one of the most experienced drivers racing under mixed conditions.”
Having thought his F1 ambitions had faded, Lotterer has since made a name for himself both in Japan and at Le Mans, winning the 24-hour sportscar classic alongside both single-seater and GT commitments in the Far East, but is naturally delighted to have been given the chance to race in the top flight, especially so close to his homeland.
“I want to thank Caterham F1 Team for this chance,” he said, “I'm ready for this challenge and I cannot wait to jump in the car and make the most out of the weekend ahead.
“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.”
The Caterham line-up has been in question since Tony Fernandes sold the team to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors, and Lotterer's links with current team advisor Colin Kolles made him a likely replacement. Ericsson, despite his relative lack of F1 experience, retains his seat courtesy of the substantial sponsorship he brings to Leafield.