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Fernandes: Monaco result shows Caterham is progressing
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Posted By: James Allen  |  31 May 2012   |  10:21 pm GMT  |  20 comments

Tony Fernandes believes the steps Caterham have taken since entering Formula 1 towards becoming a competitive operation are now starting to bear fruit after Heikki Kovalainen’s eye-catching drive in Monaco.

The Norfolk-based outfit remains without a point in its 44 grands prix and Q2 appearances remain very much the exception rather than the rule, but the team’s Malaysian owner and team principal Fernandes is taking great heart from its performance on the streets of Monte Carlo. Although greatly helped by the circuit’s narrow confines in being able to keep the much faster McLaren of Jenson Button at bay, Kovalainen nonetheless took advantage of a strong first lap to run on the fringes of the top 10 for the majority of the race with only a late collision with a by then clearly frustrated Button denying the team a 12th-place finish which would have equalled its best ever result. Kovalainen did though still come home 13th following an unscheduled late pit stop for repairs.

Fernandes said: “I am still on a high after the race in Monaco. Moving back into tenth place [in the constructors’ championship] is important but there are 14 more races to come this season and we are taking nothing for granted. However, Heikki’s 13th place and the battling performance he and the whole team put in is another sign that all the hard work we have put in over the last two and a half years is starting to pay off.”

Caterham has targeted scoring its first F1 point this season and continues to build up its capabilities and expertise in pursuit of that goal, with the highly respected former McLaren and Ferrari aerodynamicist John Iley only recently starting work at the team. Although Fernandes acknowledges that Monaco’s layout leant itself to something of a giant-killing result last weekend, he believes this nonetheless doesn’t take away from the clear steady progress Caterham is making – adding that he is particularly hopeful over the CT01 upgrade planned for Silverstone in July.

“I am very realistic about what we have achieved so far, and I know that Monaco is a unique circuit that gave us the sort of opportunity we grabbed last Sunday, but I also know that as we continue through this season we keep making small but significant steps forward,” Fernandes said. “During the Monaco race I had some very good news from the factory about a new update we have planned for Silverstone and to see that come in while we were having our best race of the season was another sign that we are doing this in the right way.”

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20 Comments
  1. Was Heikki’s drive good? yes. But I hardly see this as a show of how Caterham have improved so much…how many people retired from the race that would of normally finished in front of them come the end of the race? Its been two and a half years almost and they are still to score a point…although out of the usual 3 back running teams, Caterham do look the most professional and I do hope the best for them, but I still think they have a long way to go.

    1. TheCrappest says:

      Yes, a lot of cars retired from the race, but reliability is a big part of the challenge in F1.

      There were passing moves during the race so it is possible to pass, but Button was unable to do so.

      I have a soft spot for Caterham and I’m looking forward to the team and Kovalainen notching up their first points.

    2. Kay says:

      Nothing against Heikki, but I seriously and genuinely want to know why is everybody praising Heikki and think of him so highly?!

      Looking at his performances from Renault and McLaren days, even Coulthard could do better than him being a #2 driver.

      Nice bloke he may be, but I just honestly cannot see the skillful side of him as a driver to be worthy of all those praises and high ratings.

      1. Leen says:

        @Kay, Heikki has shared many times already that his times with Renault and McLaren were his weakest years in F1.
        The reason why Many of us F1 fans are rating Heiki highly is because he is getting the best out of a car thats clearly lacking in downforce and therefore goes slower around the track. Compared to the well respected Jarno Trully last year he was clearly miles ahead. This year however he had allot of bad luck, but in the last couple of races we can see that he is the only Caterham driver that can fight with the midfield teams. (torro rosso in particular)

      2. Kay says:

        Fine, I agree with your comparison with Trulli which I wholeheartedly agree.

        However, his two years I think it was with McLaren had given him more than enough time to adapt. In a clearly good car he still failed to demonstrate the ability to drive fast and flat out, and comparable to his teammate which he failed.

        One year in a Renault plus one year in McLaren should’ve been enough for him to do better in second year in McLaren.

      3. Leen says:

        I agree with you on this, and Heikki would agree with you as well, Last year Heikki explained a couple of times that his performance in McLaren were dissapointed because he was not confident in the car. Maybe a good comparison is Massa, a couple of years ago almost won the World Champoinship, and the last 2 seasons (after his accident) his performance dropped. Maybe a switch between them would be good for Caterham and for Massa next year.
        Massa can then regain his confident in a smaller team and Heikki can proof to everybody that he is a world class driver.

  2. Pranav says:

    Even Enrique Bernoldi in an Arrows held back David Coulthard in a McLaren at Monaco. I do not see how getting lucky at the first corner can be considered progress. Heikki is a good driver. Which is why he was able to keep Button behind him even after the pitstop.

    But being at the right place at the right time around the streets of Monaco is not progress. It is luck.

  3. HFEVO2 says:

    The Caterham team is without doubt the most professional of the new teams and have come a long way. In particular, I like the way the approach racing and felt that the team is far closer to the ethos of Colin Chapman than the team from Enstone will ever be.

    I am surprised they have still not pushed their way firmly into the mid field as I have always had a lot of respect for Mike and his team.

    Sadly, 2012 has again not resulted in a significant step forward.

    On the other hand, Williams, after it’s disasterous 2011 campaign, has made passive progress which shows exactly what is possible over just one winter.

    Given the quality of those at the top of the Caterham team, I’m quite disappointed.

    I’m sure it will come good – eventually given the people, surely progress should have been quicker ?

    1. Leen says:

      What do you mean no progress? have you looked at the times that they were doing last yaer in Monaco compared to this year?

      Last year in qualifying Q1 Heikki was 2.1 seconds of the best time and almost a second off the pace of every lower midfiel teams.
      This year in qualifying Q1 Heiki was 1.1 seconds of the best time and 0.05 seconds away from being into Q2 (due to being hold up by Glock on his fast run)

      Clearly there is progress, however we also need to see that clearly the other midfield teams have also made unexpected progress such as Williams and Sauber.

      with John Iley started a couple of weeks ago I look forward to more progress, specially in 2013. However even then we need to understand that Caterham’s budget and experience is well below any of the other midfield teams, so a tough challenge it will be to reach the same level as the midfield teams.

  4. Vvipkho says:

    Caterham looking promises in the future under tony Fernandes foundation.

  5. Blocking a car behind you thanks a]to a wall to the right and armco barrier to the left barely constitute any progress.
    Let’s see where they’re at in Canada.

    Fernandes has said at the beginning of all three seasons the target was to score point. I guess it’ll be the same next year.
    Tony is starting to sound like Luca Montezemolo who’s been saying every year since the start of 2009 that the target was winning the championship.

    In marketing, we call this the broken record technique. What are they trying to sell? And to whom?

    Personally, I was expecting (and would love) Caterham to be racing mid pack this year. The loss of the exhaust blown diffusers has levelled the field to a certain extent but Caterham don’t seem to have seized this opportunity.

  6. Kay says:

    In Monaco, even an HRT can hold any top runners back! That’s not progress, it’s the nature of the track played into the teams hands.

    As someone already said earlier, it’s been two and a half years and they’ve still yet to score. They’ve hired quite a number of highly rated people but they’ve still yet to show any real progress to be honest. I don’t know why each time they manage to get tenth spot they get so excited even though they are point-less on the championship table. Wouldn’t scoring some points be a more genuinely happy thing than just simply being there for not being slowest of all?

    Looking at Caterham, Marussia and HRT, it’s like a fight for not being the slowest, rather than a fight to mix it up with the mid-field.

    1. Leen says:

      Thats clearly not the case as Perez showed many times how easy it was to overtake both the HRT and the Marrusia’s in Monaco.

    2. Optimaximal says:

      Tenth position in the (current) championship finishing order guarantees money from Bernie.

      Until this weekend, I believe it was Marussia in that position, so it’s a relief for Caterham that should they end up in tenth, they’ll get another (£10 million?) bung.

      Money means performance in F1, so it’s clear to see why they’re excited.

      1. Leen says:

        Does the number 9th place team get more money and the number 8th more money again (and so forth?)
        I know that Caterham had to finish 2 year in the top 10 to get the £10 million, however not sure if they get this every year, and if they are finishing higher up the order that they get more money..
        Interesting thats for sure.

      2. Optimaximal says:

        Yes, it’s a performance escalator based on the number of competing teams. It’s not really fair that the bottom teams get nowt because even a few million for them would make a huge difference.

  7. goferet says:

    Yes I too am puzzled by Fernandes words for Heikki’s position was mainly due to a couple of drivers receiving penalties after qualifying and then we also saw a number of retirements up front.

    Maybe Fernandes is trying to lift the team’s spirits with whatever result they achieve for I was rather surprised they are a fair bit off the midfield pack, in this season of closeness.

    But I do like Fernandes optimism & enthusiasm for his team, this shows a man that does take his racing seriously.

    Lets wait and see what the Silverstone upgrades bring though the thing is everybody will be bringing upgrades of their own.

    P.s.

    And oh, I was under the impression that Heikki lost the 12th place as a results of his collision with Perez and not Button

  8. Stuart says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t car for this team? I feel it is all PR and nothing more. They screamed the ‘WE ARE THE REAL LOTUS’ then dropped it at the drop of a hat. More importantly they are not making significant focus. Im sure Fernandes would buy a Rugby team if he thought it was hip

    1. Leen says:

      Do you have any Idea how much Trouble Fernandes had to go through to keep the Lotus name in the 2nd year? He definately not just dropped the name, instead it was the otherway around and he was in a way forced to drop the name.

      Caterham F1 team is slowly progressing and as the Marussia and the HRT team a brand new team without having 20 years of experience to reply on like other teams had. Then to see that Caterham has much less money and equiptment to spent compared to the teams that they want to overtake, its hard to improve faster than their rivals. Rivals have their own wind tunnel, Caterham uses Williams wind tunnel. Other teams have a fully developed CFD which makes models for new parts on the car, Caterham is still 1.5 – 2 years behind in this. Please read the Caterham Notes – available on their website for more information on updates on their F1 car. Here you can see how difficult is it to improve the car faster than their midfield teams (Torro Rosso, Sauber, Force India, Williams)

      1. vvipkho says:

        Caterham is using 2 wind tunnel Aerolab and William Tunnel to test all new part..

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