Caterham performance director John Iley is optimistic the traditional hot Hungaroring conditions will allow the team to enjoy a more competitive race weekend as it bids to get more performance out of the recent upgrade package introduced onto the CT01.
The team, which is on the verge of a significant milestone in its short history when it begins the move into the former Arrows and Super Aguri factory in Leafield following this weekend’s Hungarian GP, introduced a big package of updates across the European and British GPs but near washouts during Friday practice in both the latter race and then again at Hockenheim meant the team is still working to fully get to grips with the developments.
Iley says, however, that dry running in both final practice and then on race day in Germany did allow the team to make some further progress, with some positive signs for the future.
“We did do some test items for both the German weekend and future weekends and those went pretty well I would say. We learnt some more about the package – particularly on Saturday morning that was finally dry, so second time we have run in the dry,” he said. “And during the race I think the drivers were quite happy, car showed some good pace during patches in the race. Vitaly [Petrov] I would say was particularly strong, holding Senna off towards the end of the race, and even during patches during the race people were not finding it easy to overtake our car, which is a good sign even though we are talking McLarens, Lotuses or Red Bulls.
“Again more useful learning for us during the weekend for Germany in terms of race trim in the dry and more upgrade information current and future for going into Hungary next.”
Although its Valencia upgrade was smaller than the one that appeared on the car at Silverstone, the team’s best performance of the season nonetheless came at the former when Heikki Kovalainen made Q2 on merit – repeating the feat from Bahrain when conditions were even warmer. Indeed Iley reckons those are the kind of temperatures that best suit the CT01 and therefore is looking forward to similar form in Hungary given 30-degree highs are currently forecast for Saturday and Sunday.
“Hungary has a tradition of being nice and hot and our car particularly seems to perform well in hot conditions. Valencia race and Bahrain race in particular in hot conditions our car has gone particularly well,” he said. “So that’s something we’ve working on and something we were working on during the German weekend, and getting the right balance in the dry because we’ve had hardly any running in the dry with our new upgrade package. So I think a few reasons to be looking forward to a nice hot, dry Hungarian weekend.”
Speaking in the team’s Hungarian GP preview, team boss Tony Fernandes said that the focus for the team over the coming races was to really begin to maximise the CT01’s potential.
“The Hungarian Grand Prix marks the mid-point of the F1 season and it is always good to pause for a moment and collect your thoughts before we all head off for a well-deserved summer break. In terms of progress on track we have definitely gained in pace and development but there is obviously more work to do,” the Malaysian said.
“We are yet to really unlock the whole potential of this car and that will only come with more hard work and more time, but we are absolutely determined to achieve what we have set out to this year.”