His 2013 season with Caterham was a relatively frustrating one for the Frenchman as he struggled to build on the impression he’d made in his debut year with Marussia. As you might expect, he finished ahead of rookie team mate Giedo van der Garde in both the qualifying stats and the drivers’ standings, but did he do enough to convince Caterham that he’s the man to lead them in what promises to be a demanding 2014 campaign? If not, would Marussia take Pic (and his finances) back?
Giedo van der Garde
The Dutchman impressed on numerous occasions in 2013, not least in Monaco (where he made it into Q2 in qualifying on merit) and in Belgium (where he took advantage of wet conditions for another Q2 appearance). His performances relative to team mate Pic - who already had a year of F1 racing behind him - were impressive, and he also brings backing. But one of the things that could count against him retaining his seat at Caterham is that he has less experience than some of his rivals.
The former Grand Prix winner was handed a lifeline by Lotus at the tail-end of last season when he deputised for countryman Kimi Raikkonen for the final two races. Ultimately the Finn failed to score a point, but he did remind everyone of his qualities with a rather seamless return to the frontline action after a season of bit-part appearances for Caterham. Rumours were flying at the end of 2013 that his former team were keen for Kovalainen to return to the fold in 2014, a year when experience will count perhaps more than ever. However, he doesn’t have the financial backing that some of his rivals enjoy.
In some ways, it was a baptism of fire for Max Chilton in 2013 - in his rookie season he was paired against fellow newbie Jules Bianchi: a highly-rated driver with considerably more F1 experience than the young Briton. As a result it was no great surprise that Chilton was regularly out-qualified by his team mate, though he was considerably closer in performance to the Frenchman by the season’s end. In addition, Chilton proved his consistency in 2013 by being the only driver to finish every race, plus he’s known to be financially well backed. Whether those attributes are enough to earn him another season alongside Bianchi at Marussia (or even a seat at rivals Caterham) remains to be seen.
The 23-year-old Swede has emerged as a potential candidate for one of the vacant seats at Caterham. Ericsson won one race and finished sixth in the GP2 Series standings in 2013 - his fourth season in the category. Despite having no F1 race experience, the 2009 Japanese F3 champion has driven Grand Prix machinery before, albeit some time ago - it was 2009 when he tested for Brawn GP at Jerez. Many would consider it a risky move to hand a rookie with limited experience an F1 race seat given that 2014’s myriad technical changes have put a premium on technical expertise. Then again, stranger things have happened…
Out of F1 competition since leaving Sauber at the end of 2012, the ever-popular Japanese driver has always stated his desire to return to the grid in 2014. Having spent 2013 racing GT cars for Ferrari, Kobayashi is now thought to be on Caterham’s radar, with reports suggesting he has already visited the team’s factory in Leafield. Whilst he might not have the financial backing that some of his rivals possess, Kobayashi certainly has the pedigree - remember his brilliant Japanese Grand Prix podium in 2012?
Paul di Resta
The Scot spent three consecutive seasons in a Force India race seat, but after losing his drive with the Silverstone-based team - and with a move to either Caterham or Marussia highly unlikely - Di Resta looks set to start 2014 on the F1 side lines.