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Kamui Kobayashi Q&A: 'Business as normal' at Caterham

03 Jul 2014

Kamui Kobayashi’s F1 return with Caterham for 2014 was much anticipated. Unfortunately, the team’s Renault-powered CT05 car has proved far from competitive, prompting this week’s sale of the team by former owner Tony Fernandes. What does Kobayashi make of the situation? We caught up with the Japanese driver for an exclusive chat at Silverstone on Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s 2014 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix…

Q: Kamui, you’re last in the standings with almost half the season gone, so it can’t be what you had in mind for your F1 comeback. Can you tell us about the gap between your hopes and the reality?

Kamui Kobayashi: We’re obviously not where we want to be, but there are a lot of reasons for that, nearly all of which I cannot influence. Every time I am in the car I want to do the best job I can and I’m happy I’m doing that. But we clearly need more performance. We now have new owners and they’ve said they want tenth place this year - we know what we have to do with the car to give us a chance of achieving that, so let’s judge this season properly at the end of the year.

Q: Despite the struggles, there must have been some highlights - what were these moments?

KK: Definitely. One of the great things about this team is the spirit everyone has. There really is one of the best atmospheres I have ever worked in, on track and at the factory, and there are a lot of good people. We’ve had some really good moments this year, like Q2 in our first race in Melbourne and getting tenth back in Malaysia. We want more moments like that this year and if we keep pushing there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have more.

Q: You’ve been given the nickname ‘Kamui-kaze’ by some media - can you laugh about something like that?

KK: Of course! Laughter is such an important thing to have in life.

Q: Why is it so difficult for Caterham to close the gap to the other teams? The two Red Bull teams seem to have overcome some of the Renault power unit obstacles, but not Caterham and nor really Lotus. Is that down to Red Bull’s investment to improve the interaction between car and power train?

KK: I don’t know specifically what has helped Red Bull improve - you’d have to ask them that - but the resources they have access to are clearly helping. Compared to Red Bull, both us and Lotus have much smaller budgets and less people, so it’s not surprising that a team with money to spend is improving, and those with less money are struggling.

Q: What does the new team ownership mean for you?

KK: For me it’s pretty much business as normal. I’m here to drive and that’s what I’m going to do.

Q: Had you known then what you know now, would you have bothered with an F1 comeback, or would you have pursued a career elsewhere?

KK: No, I would definitely have come back to F1. Nothing beats it!

Q: So you will be trying everything to ensure you are here again in 2015? Or do you have a plan B?

KK: For me it’s clear, I plan to be in F1 in 2015. There is not a single moment of doubt in my mind.

Q: It’s now paramount to lift the team to P10 in the standings. Do you see any realistic chance of this - and could that chance come along at Silverstone?

KK: Of course there could be a chance. There is no reason we can’t have another crazy race like Monaco, and if and when that happens again, this time hopefully the luck will be on our side. I don’t think it’ll be Silverstone, but who knows…