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New drivers’ entry, money made opening to the F1 cockpit

New-drivers-for-2014-Belgium-GPKobayashi using Spa sideline to ponder F1 ‘harmony’

Kamui Kobayashi will spend the Spa-Francorchamps weekend out of the cockpit and assessing the potential ‘lack of harmony’ in his racing life.

Although still under contract to Caterham, the team’s new management has sidelined the popular Japanese for at least the Belgian grand prix in favour of 32-year-old F1 rookie and reigning Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer.

“It’s a shame not to drive Spa,” Kobayashi told his more than 150,000 Twitter followers. “I feel sorry for all my supporters but this is motor sports — I hope not!”

Able to bring little to the table for the increasingly sponsorship-minded new Caterham chiefs, Kobayashi has earlier lamented the increasing power of the ‘pay driver’ but also life at the back of the grid in 2014.

Troubled Marussia ‘sells’ Chilton’s seat to Rossi

Kamui Kobayashi is not the only F1 regular sitting out this weekend’s fabled Belgian grand prix.

Joining Caterham stand-in and 32-year-old rookie Andre Lotterer on the Spa-Francorchamps grid will be another F1 newcomer, 22-year-old Californian Alexander Rossi.

Rossi recently left his reserve driver role at Caterham in the wake of Tony Fernandes’ departure, signing up instead with Marussia.

Going into the Spa weekend, there were already rumours Marussia almost didn’t make the trip to the Ardennes due to financial troubles.

Then on Thursday came the shock news — Rossi is stepping up to replace team regular Max Chilton.

Marussia said Briton Chilton, although previously thought to be healthily sponsored, is sitting Belgium out “while contractual issues are resolved”.

“Although it was not our intention to offer Alexander the possibility to race this season, in light of the circumstances we are pleased to be providing him with the opportunity to make his grand prix debut,” said team boss John Booth.

‘Kid’ Verstappen the big talking point at Spa

F1 has emerged from its summer slumber, but the big talking point at Spa-Francorchamps will be a 16-year-old ‘kid’ who doesn’t even have a license to drive a road car.

“Because he lives in Belgium, he cannot start lessons until about six months before his 18th birthday,” manager Raymond Vermeulen told the German newspaper Bild.

He is referring, of course, to Max Verstappen, the 16-and-a-half year old who has been signed up by Toro Rosso to debut next year and make history as F1’s youngest ever driver.

But Verstappen, the son of former F1 driver Jos and female karting sensation Sophie Kumpen, is unfazed, particularly as a top-three finish in the FIA’s top F3 category will ensure he receives the most important document — a F1 super license. (GMM/ThisisF1)

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