André Lotterer will drive for Caterham F1 Team at the Belgian Grand Prix and it is not really a great surprise. The team’s primary goal is to improve the performance of the CT05 and while Kamui Kobayashi is quick, he is not famed for his technical feedback, while the team’s second driver Marcus Ericsson does not yet have the experience to do the job but is still providing funding for the team and so the Swede remains in the second car. It’s a tough break for Kobayashi but one can understand why the team had taken the decision to try another driver. There were lengthy discussions with Britain’s James Rossiter but he is busy in Japan.
On paper, Lotterer is a German. His father was a German-Peruvian motorsport engineer Henri Lotterer but when Andre was three the family moved to Belgium and Henri established a racing team called RAS, best known in the 1980s as the team that prepared Volvos for the European Touring Car Championship. So Andre grew up in Belgium, attended school in Nivelles and cut his teeth in competition there. Today he is officially resident in Monaco, spends several months a year in Japan but returns to Belgium on a regular basis to see his mother, who remains there. His father died several years ago.
It is also often forgotten that Lotterer was a Formula 1 test driver with the Jaguar Racing team back in 2002 but did not find a way to break into Grand Prix racing and so headed to Japan where he built himself a very successful career in Formula Nippon and the Japanese Super GT Championship. he was the Formula Nippon champion in 2011. This led to him being recruited by the Audi factory sportscar team and to his three Le Mans victories in 2011, 2012 and earlier this year. The team believes that Lotterer will provide them with the feedback that is needed in order to make changes to the Caterham that will give the team a chance to score points in the latter part of the season. It is a tough challenge but Lotterer is clearly up for it because he is giving up a Japanese Super Formula race in Motegi to compete at Spa, which will impact his chances in that series, in which he is lying second, battling former Williams F1 driver Kazuki Nakajima, his team-mate, for the title. The team says that weather also plays a big role at Spa-Francorchamps and Lotterer is one of the most experienced drivers racing in mixed conditions, thanks to his considerable experience on Japanese tracks.
“I’m ready for this challenge and I cannot wait to jump in the car and make the most out of the weekend ahead,” said Lotterer. “I will need to get settled and used to the car quickly, as the team has worked on a number of updates and we will need to have as much time as possible out on track to optimise the car’s performance. I really enjoy racing at the legendary circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, it’s one of my favourite tracks and it’s very close to where I grew up, so this makes the weekend even more special.”