Mike Gascoyne has again suggested that the renamed Caterham F1 team should be challenging for points, but has done so in a more reserved way as the wraps finally came off the new CT01.
The former Team Lotus operation was the first to unveil its 2012 contender, using the pages of F1 Racing
magazine to show images of the car, and Gascoyne conceded that it was time the team took another step forward after finishing tenth in each of its two years in the top flight to date.
Having made a similar, and more robust, claim to being a point-scorer in 2011, only to have the season end without a single notch on the board, Gascoyne has been a little more circumspect in his predictions this time around, but nevertheless believes that the Hingham-based squad needs to move up the pecking order this year.
"I think we need to see the car on track first and get feedback from the first tests," he admitted, "Until we run the car, we only have numbers and simulation data to work with. But every team wants to move up the grid and we're no different. We finished tenth in the last two years, which has been our target, but now I think it's time we moved forward again. Let's see what happens we get out on track."
The design of the CT01, and particularly its front-end treatment, has raised a few eyebrows, but Gascoyne points to the effort put in behind the scenes as Caterham attempts to mark its first year under its new moniker by challenging the likes of Williams and Toro Rosso.
"The design of the car has been progressing since early 2011, [as] it's the first year of real stability for us on the technical side and, by keeping the Renault Sport F1 engine and Red Bull Technology gearbox, we know exactly what we're working with and what we can expect," he explained, "Each year so far we've effectively not only had a new design team but also a new gearbox and engine combination. Now, however, we have a very stable design team under our technical director Mark Smith, and this means we can take a much bigger step forward in terms of the detail of the design - and that really showed in the homologation process.
"Throughout the off-season, we've been focusing on a number of key elements of the development of this year's car, including a lot of work on optimising the windtunnel. We have taken into consideration the changes in the technical regulations this year, most noticeably around the nose box and the push-off tests we had to pass. The rules around crash testing now mean that the cars have to be homologated before the first test, which meant bringing forward all the homologation tests by a month to six weeks before T1. From that point of view, we had a very successful development programme and we fully homologated the chassis before Christmas, [when] I believe we were the first team to pass all the tests."
The eye-watering aero treatment is only a small part of the CT01 package, of course, and Gascoyne is particularly interested to see how the car fares against its rivals when it finally gets its own KERS system, having run the entire 2011 without the added advantage enjoyed by most of the field.
"The car build has gone very smoothly," he reported, "and the car will be completely ready for the first test in Jerez on 7 February.