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Caterham see silver lining amid double Melbourne DNF
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Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Mar 2012   |  8:31 pm GMT  |  7 comments

Caterham may have got the season in which it is aiming to score its first Formula 1 points underway with a disappointing double DNF, and a five-place grid penalty for its lead driver at the next race, but the team has taken comfort from evidence which it believes suggests it can take on Formula 1’s midfield this year.

Although the Malaysian-owned squad found themselves in familiar positions below the Q1 cut line in qualifying at Albert Park, technical director Mark Smith took heart from the race pace both Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov were able to display prior to dropping out with front track rod and steering problems respectively.

“Today we showed the sort of pace that we knew this car was capable of in pre-season testing,” Smith said. “I am very encouraged by our performance in the race and we have a good platform to build on. It is clear that we can race with a number of cars in the midfield so we will move on to Malaysia and make sure we have a strong weekend in front of the home fans.”

Petrov was running 14th when he had to pull up on the side of the pit straight, prompting the late safety car, and reckons that up until then the CT01 served notice that it can “bring rewards” for the team over the next 19 races.

“I was catching Senna and Massa ahead and the car felt really well balanced,” he said. “I was managing the tyres well and we definitely showed the sort of pace that can bring rewards this season, so while it’s obviously not how we wanted the first race with my new team to go we can take a lot of positives from this and move on to Malaysia where we know we can put in a strong performance.”

Kovalainen had to run without the use of KERS from the start of the race, and lost the use of his DRS rear wing for the opening six laps, and Caterham Group chief Riad Asmat added: “We have work to do to make sure we cure the problems we encountered today, but we will do just that and come back even more strong in Sepang.”

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7 Comments
  1. Andy says:

    I hope I’m wrong but I didn’t see anything at the weekend that makes me want to share Caterham’s optimism.

  2. Jacques from France says:

    Hil all,
    Pace is one thing, details are other matters.
    Probably something that needs a huge improvement @Caterham, lack of Quality Management Systems (QC) the power steering (PS) problem is not new , since two years the team has hugely suffered from this issue and it happened again! If it’s developped in house it’s a massive fail! Should be outsourced, fast!
    As to the 5 grid penalty, is there anyone in the team who has read the FIA regulations? If so, why didn’t they properly communicated with Heikki?
    When all these ”little” details will be sorted out, then they might be considered as midflield players!
    And, don’t take me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of the team!
    Cheers from France
    Jacques

  3. goferet says:

    This season’s midfield is too congested with many cars with about the same pace so it will be very difficult for Caterham to score points in races based on pure pace alone.

    The only way I can see Caterham pull this off is during a wet race or a street circuit like Montreal where there is always a high possibility of cars crashing out or developing mechanical difficulties due to high brake wear.

    It’s a shame Heikki is already has his one of his hands tied at the next race but who knows, it way turn out to be a blessing in disguise as the midfield pack gets wiped out in a first corner incident at Kuala Lumpur.

    Meanwhile have to feel sorry for Petrov, he left (unwillingly of course) his former team which now looks good to mix it out at the front consistently.

  4. vvipkho says:

    just small problem to fix for Malaysia GP 1st Home race to aim best position on race day ..

  5. Phil says:

    “but the team has taken comfort from evidence which it believes suggests it can take on Formula 1’s midfield this year.”

    Yeap!
    Qualifying .920 seconds off a slow Räikkönen and 2 secs of the next, Perez. That’s really taking it to the midfield guys!

    Lotus/Caterham, all talk… no results.

    1. Phil says:

      Can I just, I see the error of my ways. Technically on times, Perez wasn’t the next from Raikkonen, it was Massa, who was about 1.2 seconds ahead of Kovalainen.
      Still, not encouraging

  6. Aljo says:

    Marussia (Virgin) has already equally its best ever finishing position of 14th, with a car that had barely run before the race.

    Caterham needs to really pay attention to the details and make sure it finishes, and finishes ahead of the backmarkers before making any claims about fighting the midfield.

    I hope they do it, but I can’t help hoping Marussia get some success too, as reward for building the second prettiest car on the track.

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