Caterham strongly considered putting its new Formula 1 test driver Robin Frijns straight into a 2014 race seat, according to team owner Tony Fernandes.
Ex-Sauber reserve and 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 champion Frijns was announced as Caterham’s new number three when it revealed Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson’s race deals earlier this week. But Fernandes revealed that he had been very tempted to give 22-year-old Dutchman Frijns his F1 racing debut this year.
“Robin is the most exciting young driver,” Fernandes said. “We think he has a huge future ahead and we hope we have a long relationship with him.
“There was a lot of debate about bringing him in straight away, and we erred a little bit on the side of caution. We thought we would be a little bit conservative in giving him time to get used to F1 and all the other changes.”
Frijns made a strong impression on Caterham in early simulator runs. He will make his on-track debut for Caterham on day three of the first winter test at Jerez next Thursday. Ericsson will drive the new car for the first two days, with Kobayashi then having his first run on Friday.
Frijns took part in the 2012 and ’13 F1 young driver tests with Sauber, but lost his reserve place with the team last summer. He also had a Red Bull F1 test at the end of 2012 as a reward for his FR3.5 title.
Last year Frijns’ racing was limited to a partial GP2 season with the new Hilmer team, during which he won at Barcelona.