The second day of testing was something of a landmark for the renamed Caterham F1 team, as it finally ran with an active KERS system on board one of its cars.
Having survived two seasons without the power-boosting device since returning the Lotus name to the top flight, Tony Fernandes' outfit always intended to join the revolution in 2012, but ran with a dummy unit on Tuesday in Spain, as it shook down its CT01 machine in the hands of Heikki Kovalainen. After a frustrating end to the opening session, the Finn remained on board for day two, and was rewarded with a largely trouble-free run as he put more miles on the car, which was launched via the pages of a magazine several days before any of its rivals broke cover.
“An excellent day of testing and I want to congratulate Heikki and the whole team for the job we have done today," chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne enthused, "We ran KERS for the first time and completed everything we had planned with that system, so thank you to Red Bull Technology and Renault Sport F1 for helping make that part of the programme run so smoothly.
“We were concentrating on the set-up programme, using long runs to really start understanding what this car can do, so, having completed 139 laps, we have made a huge amount of progress, particularly compared to last year. Now we have to make sure we keep up this sort of momentum for the rest of the tests.”
Kovalainen was equally excited by what the team had achieved, remembering the early struggles it faced in both 2010 and '11. The Finn posted a best lap of 1min 21.518secs during his 139 laps, leaving him around a second off McLaren and Ferrari, although little can be read into testing times at this point in the season.
“I feel very happy with the work we have completed today," he reported, "Yesterday, we had a problem that was nothing to do with the car, so today was our first real day of testing and we had a trouble-free day, completing most of what we wanted to on day one and day two and working through a variety of set-up changes. We ran on each of the tyre compounds and I'm really starting to get a feel for the car.
"Basically, it's good news because it confirms what I thought yesterday. This car is a lot better than the 2011 car, it's quicker and everything works as we want it to. We've made very solid progress and I feel really good physically, so I think there's a lot more to come.”
Kovalainen will step out of the car on day three of the test but, instead of regular team-mate Jarno Trulli - whose position in the team remains the subject of speculation, newly-signed reserve Giedo van der Garde will step in to continue the development programme, and Caterham Group CEO Riad Asmat is confident that the Dutch rookie will be able to pick up where Kovalainen left off.
“That was the sort of day that makes this job so enjoyable," he said, reflecting on the team's efforts to recover after Tuesday frustration with a broken starter shaft, "We were reliable, quick and we learnt a huge amount about the car. Quite a contrast to yesterday when we had to deal with a problem that we had never encountered before, but the team worked very hard and had it all rectified last night.
"Today, we completed more laps than any other team and had no problems at all. That enabled us to make up the ground we lost and give the engineers and the team back at the factory a huge amount of data to work on tonight in preparation for Giedo getting into the car tomorrow. We want more days like this as it is the hard miles we put in now that will put us in the best possible shape for the season ahead.”