Kobayashi enjoyed three years in the sport after debuting with Toyota at the penultimate round of the 2009 Formula One season before moving to Sauber in 2010. However, he was dropped for 2013 as Nico Hulkenberg arrived from Force India and Esteban Gutierrez was promoted to a full-time race seat. As a result, he moved to endurance racing and was part of Ferrari’s GT squad competing in the World Endurance Championship with whom he claimed four podiums.
Now though, according to veteran F1 journalist Adam Cooper, Kobayashi could be set to return to the sport. Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul was recently quoted as saying that drivers should expect to bring money to a team in order to secure a seat, something that has cost Heikki Kovalainen dearly after the Finn was dropped by Caterham at the end of 2012.
Although he was a serious consideration for the team, it appears that Kobayashi is a more viable option as he does bring in some sponsorship and is a highly capable driver, boasting a best result of third place which he achieved at the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.
Should Kobayashi get the seat, it would leave the race for the remaining spot with Caterham between current driver Giedo van der Garde and Swedish youngster Marcus Ericsson. Ericsson was a guest of the team at the final round of the season in Brazil and has a good record in GP2. Nevertheless, the impressive form of Dutchman van der Garde in the second half of 2013 means that it he is still the frontrunner for the seat.
This news does only further fuel paddock suspicions that Charles Pic will be dropped for 2014 after an underwhelming year with Caterham.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.