Kamui Kobayashi retired inexplicably mid-race during the Formula One Russian Grand Prix, and his post-retirement interview was just as baffling. He couldn't explain why Caterham wanted to pull the car he was racing. Perhaps a few too many items were seized earlier this month?
It's a bit bizarre to pull a car from a race with no public explanation. Usually, drivers are told to back off. Someone might mention a sign of impending mechanical failure coming through the data over the radio. But with this Caterham, not so much. Not even the driver could explain why he was pulled, which made the interview afterwards even more awkward.
The interview was made a bit more painful by the fast-talking English-language reporter, who was putting questions out there faster than Kobayashi could form a good answer. Translating "I don't really know why I'm not racing right now" to answer questions you're not sure about into a language you're not a native speaker of is not the easiest job, and it shows.
Regardless, a few suspicious tidbits of information certainly made their way though the language barrier.
Formula One cars require quite a lot of upkeep, and parts aren't really made to last for great lengths of time. When Kobayashi mentions "I think we have a lot of limitations with the mileage, or whatever," in this interview, the first thing that comes to mind is the possibility that Caterham might not be able to afford new parts.
Caterham's financial situation is pretty dire, with many items recently seized by police.
The car was running find at Sochi, though, and I can't imagine the quite flat track there would have put any more strain on the components than anywhere else.
When asked what was wrong with the car, Kobayashi replied:
Yeah, I don't know actually, nothing. No problem at all. I think we could have done the race, just maybe I think management decided we're not fighting with anyone, so maybe, yeah, we stop racing.
That's quite a lot of uncertainty, maybe.
Poor Kobayashi. He's such a talent that part of me wishes he'd have stayed in sportscars where his trademark wild passes are appreciated a bit more.
Despite this, Kobayashi expects to race in Austin.
In an effort to spin things as "we're not in any sort of money trouble whatsoever," the team released a statement from Kobayashi after the race explaining that the brakes were overheating:
It was all a bit of a surprise to me and at first I didn't really know what the reason for having to stop was.
The team has now analysed the telemetry and it was clear that my brakes were overheating too much.
If formulasplaining isn't a real word, it should be. That's a bit of spin right there. The car appeared to be working fine until it was brought in, and even Kobayashi couldn't figure it out.