Caterham performance director John Iley is hopeful the package of upgrades the team has brought to Abu Dhabi will ultimately be worth around three tenths of a second in lap time to the team.
Having fallen behind Marussia in the battle for lucrative tenth place in the constructors’ championship four races ago in Singapore, Caterham has just three weekends left to try and redress the balance and, in its on-going bid to catch the back of the midfield, unveiled a series of updates on the CT01 this morning in first practice.
Caterham’s deficit to Q2 has been consistently over a second since the end of the European season but Iley is optimistic the package brought to this weekend – which includes new front wing, bodywork and exhaust parts – will produce a tangible step forward.
“A lot of people are working very hard,” he said during BBC Radio 5 Live’s practice coverage.
“Very nice to see some more bits here. We have three races to go, hopefully we can show a bit of improved pace.
“We’ve modified the front wing and floor. We’ve brought some bits back to the car in terms of front brake duct corner and rear wing endplate we’ve been running previously and have some new bodywork and new exhaust bits and pieces as well.”
During Friday practice Caterham, which saw test driver Giedo van der Garde lose all of his significant running in FP1 owing to a problem with the electronic boxes or looms on the car, finished within nine tenths of a second of the fastest Toro Rosso, although that particular gap usually increases come Q1.
Kovalainen, who was in the upgraded CT01 for both sessions, was positive about the car’s performance and said nailing the set-up would be key to ensuring the team maximised the developments.
“In the first session we ran a number of the new parts we brought here and then did comparison runs in FP2, as well as trying the soft tyres on a performance run, and a longer stint at the end of the session,” the Finn said.
“The key to unlocking the potential of the upgrades is finding the right setup and with the amount of laps we ran over both FP1 and FP2 today we’ve generated enough data to give us a good chance to find something we can work with tomorrow.”