Mid-Season Review: Kamui Kobayashi

One Caterham driver review follows another and now it is Kamui Kobayashi’s turn to be scrutinised. When the team announced that Kamui would return to Formula One this season, it was unquestionably a popular decision. His aggressive and ambitious driving style had endeared him to fans not just in Japan but across the world however, Kobayashi has been a shadow of his former self so far this season, as the car has not allowed him the opportunity to highlight his talents. With the team facing turbulent times, will Kamui be given a chance to show some of his prowess in the second half of the campaign?

Season So Far…

Australian Grand Prix
Retired
Malaysian Grand Prix
13th
Bahrain Grand Prix
15th
Chinese Grand Prix
18th
Spanish Grand Prix
Retired
Monaco Grand Prix
13th
Canadian Grand Prix
Retired
Austrian Grand Prix
16th
British Grand Prix
15th
German Grand Prix
16th
Hungarian Grand Prix
Retired

Stuck In Obscurity

Kamui Kobayashi has always been an explosive character, yet this season he has been stuck in a state of obscurity – something that he is unfamiliar with. Even in 2013, when the Sauber-refugee was driving in Ferrari’s GT programme, he managed to hit the Formula One headlines when he crashed a F150 during a demonstration run in Moscow. In all honesty, he hasn’t made headlines of that ilk so far this season. While some analysts and journalists have asked Kamui whether he regrets leaving the Ferrari programme in order to join a politically turbulent Caterham outfit, yet for me, these questions are misguided. Being a Formula One driver is the best place to showcase talent – when was the last time a long-time GT driver made the jump to Formula One? I doubt Kamui would have had many reservations in regards to a paddock return. 
Unquestionably, the troubles faced by Caterham this season will have negatively impacted on Kamui’s performances. In the analysis of Marcus Ericsson’s season so far, I highlighted the political struggles faced by the team, but these will not have effected Kobayashi as much as they will have been to the detriment of his young teammate. Having experience in these situations is integral. However, when the political issues erode into sporting affairs, (which they usually do), they are all conquering. Kobayashi has not been able to demonstrate the array of skills which were evident in his time at Sauber. However, neither driver has made excuses in the press and this is highly commendable.

The Teammate Battle?

So, with both Caterham drivers now analysed, which one has come out on top so far this season? Well, it is not the clearest of pictures at Caterham as neither driver has scored points, nor have they had the equipment to do so. Ericsson is currently above Kobayashi in the championship courtesy of his P11 result in Monaco and evidently, this is the result which stands out. Meanwhile, Kobayashi has been the more consistent, yet this is surely more of an expectation considering his experience. It is crucial to remember that Kobayashi drove for Sauber from 2010 to 2012, yet before this season, Ericsson’s only Formula One experience came during a test at BrawnGP. The Swede didn’t even obtain his super-licence until pre-season.
Technically, Kobayashi is beating Ericsson 6-2 in terms of race results, (discounting races where Caterham suffered double retirements). This is a crucial statistic and cannot be overlooked. Kobayashi has had the edge in not only the races but also in qualifying and has looked like the only one of the two drivers capable of challenging the Marussia duo for one lap pace. Overall, Kamui has out-performed Ericsson, but perhaps not to the extent that was expected.

As For The Rating…

Kamui Kobayashi’s 2014 campaign so far warrants 6/10 
Eagle eyed readers may notice that this is exactly the same as Marcus Ericsson’s rating from yesterday, but I do no feel that one driver has out-performed expectations more than their counterpart. Both have made the best of a bad situation – neither has made their team’s issues worse by using the media as a platform to comment on the internal problems. Both driver has efficiently worked towards improving the car and while results have not been forthcoming, I expect their good attitudes to continue. Kobayashi may have outperformed Ericsson, but considering their differing levels of experience, they have both achieved what was to be expected. Readers are likely to disagree with both verdicts, but in relation to the dire state of Caterham as a team, both drivers have carried on regardless and surely that deserves credit.

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