Team principal Tony Fernandes lauded the final pre-season F1 test before the 2012 season opener in Melbourne as the best ever for the Caterham team after an impressive performance from both Heikki Kovalainen and newcomer Vitaly Petrov at Catalunya.
The combined lap times from the four day test had both drivers within a second of the quickest time, set by Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen on the final morning.
It capped a solid end to pre-season running for the new CT01 and Fernandes said he was delighted with the performance shown so far.
“For me that is the best test our team has ever had,” he said. “Both Vitaly and Heikki have performed very well behind the wheel and with both drivers putting in good times, and very decent mileage, we leave here in as good a shape as we could have hoped for.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, and we will not stop pushing because we know where we are likely to be when we get to Melbourne, and to be able to fight with the teams ahead will require even more hard work from everybody, but step by step we keep edging ever closer to them and the performance here, and in Jerez, shows we are on the right path.”
Caterham group chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne was also pleased with the performance of the new car, although he admitted it was important not to get too carried away with the results of testing.
“We have had a very good final week of testing,” he said. “Both drivers have made the sort of progress we targeted, particularly Vitaly who had his proper race seat today and is starting to find a balance he can really use. We still have some work to do to help him optimise the braking system, but that is about fine tuning his setup and I am sure we can have that ready for him in Melbourne.
“We can also be pleased that in the two key areas of reliability and performance we have been able to achieve what we set out to. The car has run pretty much faultlessly all week and we are starting to unlock the performance that we know this car can deliver. It looks like the midfield teams will be very tightly packed this year, and while we know the times from the tests do not tell the whole story, it does look like we have made a step from last year, so the target for Australia will be to maintain the strong reliability we have shown here, build on the performance both drivers have demonstrated and aim to be racing one or two of the teams who were just out reach at the end of 2011.”