Caterham F1 will leave Jerez pleased with their efforts from this weeks first test, with technical boss Mike Gascoyne calling it “probably the best first test I have ever been involved in throughout my career.”
In particular they will be happy with their overall reliability, completing 358 laps over the four days, and barring a minor problem with the starter on Tuesday the new CT-01 ran smoothly throughout the week.
Jarno Trulli took over from Heikki Kovalainen and Giedo van der Garde to have his first taste of this years chassis, as well as getting to grips with KERS. “I hadn’t used KERS before, and despite the extra buttons it means on the wheel, it’s pretty simple to get used to it quickly and I think we’ll see the benefits of that more and more as we keep learning how to get the most out of it.” Said Trulli.
As with all teams, times are of little significance compared to reliability and synergy with the new car at these early stages and having posted the third-highest number of laps during the week Caterham will be pleased with their work over the Winter. It is hard to determine the focal point of each team, however Caterham feel assured that they have good pace in the CT-01, regardless of lap times. “We know there’s a lot more to come in pure pace – perhaps we were the only team to run without dropping the fuel but we wanted to focus on running through the development program and making sure we completed the plan each day.” Added Trulli. An area of importance too for Trulli was the power steering system, which caused issues in last years car. “The power steering is good – we can keep fine tuning it, but I think it’s basically a good package with a lot of potential for us to work on.”
Trulli ran the car on Friday, following on from Kovalainen taking the first two days and van der Garde who had his first day of running with the former Team Lotus squad. Caterham Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne felt that the test has been very successful. “Apart from an issue on day one with the starter the car ran absolutely faultlessly throughout the whole test which is a real tribute to the work put in by the whole team. We completed the whole test program, working with KERS for the first time and for me this has probably been the best first test I have ever been involved in throughout my career,” said Gascoyne. This year is being seen as a great opportunity for teams who did not maximise the exhaust blown diffuser in 2011, leveling the grid and bringing other aerodynamic and engineering factors in to play such as the utilisation of a different exhaust structure. Caterham’s engine supplier Renault Sport believe that the new roundly shaped exhaust tips could bring an extra 10-20bhp, which alongside KERS could make a crucial difference in a straight line. “Overall we are in a much better position going into the season than we have ever been before, so that is the first goal achieved.” Added Gascoyne.
With many different scenarios being run by each team it will be hard to gain an insight into one-lap pace until practice in Melbourne. However, with Caterham running well consistently over the last four days they will see this first test as a very successful platform with which to progress. “This week we have had the best start to a season yet in our three short years so we will move on to Barcelona in good spirits, with more new parts to come and in good shape to keep unlocking this car’s potential.” Concluded Riad Asmat, Caterham Group CEO.