André Lotterer competed in just one Formula 1 Grand Prix in his career, with Caterham in 2014. The team was struggling financially, and its director Colin Kolles hoped to make a sporting impact by hiring a driver familiar with Spa-Francorchamps before the Belgian GP.
Thus, he turned to Lotterer, who replaced Kamui Kobayashi for a weekend. However, a clause in the Japanese driver’s contract required Lotterer to pay for his seat. Kolles then kindly reduced the amount he asked from the German.
“Colin Kolles, who enabled my debut at Le Mans in 2009 and thus altered some aspects of my career, called me as the new race director of Caterham,” Lotterer recalls.
“He wanted me to race at Spa because I knew the circuit well and had a chance in the rain. If I remember correctly, there was a clause in Kamui Kobayashi’s contract stating that he could only be replaced by a paying driver. I had to pay one euro for the agreement, and I found myself in the cockpit.”
“It was last minute, of course. I spent some time in the simulator to understand the subject, but really, I was diving in headfirst. I got used to it quite quickly. However, I never would have thought it would be that significant.”
“There was a lot going on around me in the paddock. I don’t think there’s ever been that many people at a Caterham press conference. Without any pressure, I was able to enjoy my status as a Formula 1 driver for a weekend. It was fun, and I even beat my teammate in qualifying.”
Why Lotterer “Said No to Formula 1”
Lotterer received a similar request for Monza, but he was expected to share the car with Roberto Merhi, who was coming in for test drives and brought additional funding. Lotterer preferred to decline the offer rather than have limited driving time.
“The team asked me to drive at Monza, but wanted me to share the car with Roberto Merhi for the trials. After barely driving at Spa, it was either the whole weekend for me or nothing at all. They kept asking me, but I didn’t give in.”
“That’s how I ended up saying no to Formula 1. When Kolles was no longer part of the team, there was another request for the season finale in Abu Dhabi. I let it go because I was satisfied with the long term. Frankly, I wasn’t motivated to just do anything.”
“I wasn’t keen on messing around at the back of the pack, and even in a leading position, I couldn’t have done much in that situation. I made that decision at the time and I don’t regret it. The car really wasn’t fun to drive due to the lack of aerodynamic support.”
André Lotterer’s Single F1 Race: The Costly Mistake of Colin Kolles. André Lotterer’s Single F1 Race: The Costly Mistake of Colin Kolles
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