The Caterham F1 team confirmed today that Andre Lotterer is to replace Kamui Kobayashi for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
A three-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours and former World Endurance Champion, Lotterer has been drafted into the backmarker squad in an effort to diagnose some of the performance issues with the CT05.
“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to take part in a Formula One race weekend,” said Lotterer. He added, “I’m ready for this challenge and I cannot wait to jump in the car and make the most out of the weekend ahead.”
It is believed that while Kobayashi has driven well this year, his abilities to translate performance details of the car have been a marked weak point.
On the other hand, recent developments on the business side of the Caterham F1 team have raised questions as to validity of Lotterer’s appearance. A regular in Super Formula, Lotterer is reportedly backed by the HYPE drinks manufacturer.
Most notably, Lotterer is also a competitor with Audi’s LMP1 effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship and he currently 2nd in the championship alongside his Joest teammates Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer.
This will not be Lotterer’s first taste of Formula One. The 32-year-old was a test driver with Jaguar in the early part of the last decade and was in line for a seat with the manufacturer in 2003, only to be dropped in favour of Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia.
It would not be unreasonable to assume that Lotterer may struggle to get fully up to speed of temporary teammate Marcus Ericsson this weekend. The lack of any seat-time and the last minute draft may render the German somewhat unprepared; however he will be race fit.
Lotterer is in no doubt of the scale of the task ahead of him. “I will need to get settled and used to the car quickly,” admitted the Audi factory man. “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.”
There is certainly no worries as to Lotterer’s knowledge of the famed Belgian circuit, for the German is well acquainted with the track and last raced there in the 2nd round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in May. “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.”
According to the team, Kobayashi is to remain part of the Caterham squad, but there is no indication if he will be racing again this year.