Fans sent donations to the Japanese driver after he lost his Sauber drive at the end of the 2012 season, with the hope that the funds would help him secure another slot on the grid. In the end, no F1 drive was forthcoming and Kobayashi spent the 2013 season racing for Ferrari in the World Endurance Championship.
Nevertheless, Kobayashi says the contributions he received were invaluable.
“I want to give special thanks to all the fans who have made donations to KAMUI SUPPORT,” the 27-year-old said.
“Their donations and gestures gave me extra strength to come back fighting and I am very pleased that the money they raised not only helped me but will now go to helping Caterham progress this year. Every single one of you who helped with KAMUI SUPPORT will race with me in 2014 and that makes me very proud.”
Kobayashi is optimistic that the changes to F1’s technical regulations in 2014 can help Caterham progress up the grid after finishing at the bottom of the constructors’ standings in 2013.
“I first visited the factory in Leafield just before Christmas and it’s clear how hungry the whole team is to make progress. Last year was a tough season but the new rules this year mean that everyone in F1 is starting again and that means everybody has a chance to improve.
“From what I’ve seen, Caterham now has everything in place to progress this year and for many seasons to come. We’re all realistic about what we can actually achieve this year, and until we’ve run the car properly at the tests it’s still too early to see where we are compared to the other teams, but whatever happens we have to move forwards this year.
“For me, it’s a chance to start again with a new team but one that’s serious about progressing, and for the team, 2014 is the first chance to show what they can do with all the people and infrastructure they’ve built up in Leafield since moving there in 2012.
Caterham will roll-out their 2014 Renault-powered challenger on January 28, the first day of pre-season testing at Jerez, Spain, and Kobayashi is expected to be in action immediately.
“I can’t wait to start work again, and one of the benefits to making this announcement so close to the start of the tests means I only have a few days to wait to get back on track!” he said.
“Before then I’ll be at the factory as much as possible, working in the simulator and with everyone there to prepare as much as we can for the tests in Jerez and Bahrain. Physically and mentally I’m fully prepared, now I just want to get back to work!”