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Caterham
Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  09 Mar 2012   |  12:44 pm GMT  |  6 comments

Pre season testing is concluded, the new season is about to start and the signs are that the Caterham team has closed the gap to the midfield runners down to around half a second per lap; potentially close enough to race them.

And Caterham F1 team boss Tony Fernandes believes that the team is ready to kick on in other ways, including the way it presents itself.

Speaking in the team’s e-zine Caterham Notes he said that he sees his team having a “good and strong” 2012. Fernandes was born in the Chinese year of the Dragon, and with this year matching his birth year he will hope that Chinese tradition prevails. However, the Team Principal also stands by his own philosophy – make your own success.

Caterham have come out of the Winter break raring to go and having been the first team to unveil their new car they gained a lot of attention and proved that they are keen to get on with the season ahead. There has also been a driver change, bringing Vitaly Petrov into the team at the expense of Jarno Trulli. These changes, alongside those made last season regarding top engineers Mark Smith and John Iley shows that Caterham F1 are looking to make their own success. “We are stabilising and expanding the core team and it is obvious that we are attracting top names to the team. We have proved that we are here to stay and to move up the grid,” said Fernandes.

With a strong back-room in place, Fernandes is focusing his expertise on marketing and team management. “I can never hope to influence the design process – I’m not going to even try!…But in terms of marketing the team and the way we use communications to express ourselves and include fans, I think we have been quite different.” He added.

The role of Team Principal differs between teams; for Ross Brawn it is very much technical and engineering based and for Franz Tost and Christian Horner, both former racing drivers, their knowledge stretches from knowing how to manage a driver through to assisting engineers. Fernandes, on the other hand, enjoys the prospect of turning a challenge in to a triumph and although Caterham has a way to go before they can be deemed as a successful team, they seem to be making the necessary changes to reach their goals. “That’s what I do, I take failing businesses, or projects with a significant challenge, and turn them around – that’s the drive for me,” finished Fernandes.

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6 Comments
  1. Kay says:

    Franz Tost and Christian Horner are merely there as figureheads, nothing more.

    If it wasn’t for Adrain Newey, Christian Horner would be nothing.

  2. vvipkho says:

    looking forward my favor team in all race season. Heikki and Vitaly will show true performed in race of the CT01..

  3. I think they’ll do well this year. A lot of people have compared them to new teams in the past, but they seem to forget a lot of key differences.

    1) Buying a team versus starting one from scratch – If you buy a team, you have all the key people in place, and you can evolve from a design that’s at least finished races. You don’t have to build everything from the ground up.

    2) Starting a team with a limited budget – Toyota was the last team to start from scratch, but they rivalled Ferrari in terms of budget. It’s hard to compare Fernandes’ team to that of Toyota/TTE who were able to build up a facility that is now defunct for three years, yet is still the envy of most of the F1 field. Engine test benches that are second-to-none, and wind-tunnels that other teams are renting to verify their own results.

    3) Starting a team in a no-testing era – Sure, you can replicate full races on the dyno, shake a car on a shaker-rig, play all you want in the wind-tunnel, but nothing beats pounding around a track for a few days. Caterham (nee Lotus) started their team and was thrust into their first race with only 12 days of testing. Contrast that to the Toyotas, Stewarts, etc, where they could test for a month straight if they wanted, and you can see the difference.

    4) Starting a team in an era of unprecedented reliability – It’s crazy how many cars finish a race. If they don’t crash, they almost always finish. Engines are on a development freeze, so engine failures are few and far between. Minardi could pick up the odd points finish back when it was top-6 only, but then again, that was when half the field retiring was not overly uncommon. Finishing in the top-10 these days is probably more of an accomplishment than getting a top-6 back in 1990. I’d bet most drivers knew the access roads around each circuit back to the pits quite well – these days they’d get lost! Webber and Bourdais got their first points through high attrition. Those days are gone, even if only until 2014.

    Caterham is doing well. They’re finishing lots of races, which is something that many other teams couldn’t achieve in their first few years. I think they’ll get their first points this year, and I hope they do. Despite the differences due to the modern high-reliability era, you can only claim to be a “new” team for so long.

    1. goferet says:

      @ malcolm.strachan

      Interesting!

      Look like valid points to me.

    2. conor says:

      Really well written post, great points about Toyota

  4. goferet says:

    That Tony Fernandes fellow comes across as a top bloke to me and judging from his words & tweets, he’s clearly passionate about his motorsport so the likelyhood of Caterham staying in the sport in the long term is very probable and in which time they will go from strength to strength if the changes they have made this year & last season are anything to go by.

    Yeah it will be interesting to seem the Caterham pilots hurry up the midfield runners and am sure they will pick up a number of casualties should they fool about at the back for it Petrov & Heikki they have no nonsense operators.

    Now, with Fernandes being born in the year of the Dragon, does this mean he is to have good luck come his way in Chinese tradition?

    Hahaa I think the Chinese maybe onto something because if one looks at Fernandes success rate in business then this might be Caterham’s year.

    P.s.

    A question to the author of the article, am guessing you are a Caterham fan, Yes? Seen lots articles about the team from yours truly.

    Keep it up!

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