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Frustrating weekend for Caterham

A double DNF was not the result Caterham F1 was looking for in the Australian Grand Prix.
The news that Heikki Kovalainen had been handed a five-place grid penalty for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix capped an already disappointing day for the Caterham F1 team.

Having failed to break out of the opening phase of qualifying at Albert Park, Kovalainen and new team-mate Vitaly Petrov would start the race from 18th and 19th on the grid, and then found themselves behind the slower Marussia of Timo Glock after the German found a quicker path through the chaos at turn one on the opening lap. With Kovalainen suffering problems with both his KERS and DRS in the early stages, Petrov was able to move ahead and was running a solid race until he suffered a steering problem that forced him to park up on the start-finish straight, inadvertently bringing out the safety car that benefited technical partner Red Bull.

“I was having a fantastic race and it's such a shame we had to retire the car," the Russian sighed, "Until that point, everything was going exactly to plan. The team did a great to job to help me pass Heikki in the first stop, and I was catching Senna and Massa ahead as the car felt really well balanced. I was managing the tyres well and we definitely showed the sort of pace that can bring rewards this season.

"So, while it's obviously not how we wanted the first race with my new team to go, we can take a lot of positives from this and move on to Malaysia where we know we can put in a strong performance.”

The two cars began the race on different tyre strategies, with Kovalainen on the softer options and Petrov on the primes, and were running to plan through the first stops until striking problems mid-race.

“We showed the sort of pace that we knew this car was capable of in pre-season testing," technical director Mark Smith claimed, as both Caterhams rivalled Force India, Williams and even Ferrari for lap times, "I am very encouraged by our performance in the race and we have a good platform to build on. It is clear that we can race with a number of cars in the midfield, so we will move on to Malaysia and make sure we have a strong weekend in front of the home fans."

While Petrov's DNF was related to his steering wheel, Kovalainen's retirement appeared to have been precipitated by a front track rod issue which was causing his car to pull to the left under braking. Rather than risk an accident with just days between races, the team opted to call the Finn in to retire - only for the veteran to marginally pass Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull under safety car conditions as he pitted.

“It seems like a front left suspension problem was causing the handling imbalance I'd felt for a few laps before we had to retire," Kovalainen commented, "Both stops went well, but then I felt the car starting to pull left under braking, so we brought it in to take a look. I'm sure we can fix both problems for next week and we have shown today what a step forward we've taken. The sort of times we were doing were clearly competitive. so it's not bad news, it's just one of those days.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham F1 Team
Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham F1 Team
Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Caterham F1 Team and Charles Pic (FRA), Marussia F1 Team
Car of Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Caterham F1 Team
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham F1 Team
29.04.2016 - Free Practice 2, Vitaly Petrov (RUS)
20.03.2016 - Matt Preston, Master Chef Australia
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Carlos Sainz (ESP) WRC Champion former and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid pole position
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid pole position
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid pole position
19.03.2016 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid pole position

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JJJ - Unregistered

March 20, 2012 12:24 AM

@TonyF 'Believe' would imply it'd be feasible to deny the facts that again, they qualify 18th and 19th like in the two years before and again, at no point in the race either of the two drivers even ran in the top 10, despite the typically high number of drivers retiring from the race in Melbourne. Wasn't it Mike's plan to score points last year already? They pretty mich went nowhere from where they were the first year, not in terms of positions anyway. Mike G is a bully who has been riding the wave of some success @Renault for about 10 years now, proving that nothing other than that others were responsible for said success in the first place and all the while blaming drivers and Colin Kolles for his own failures. You can be a nice person or you can be a knobhead who delivers results, but if you're a knobhead who fails like Mike, you need to get called out on it.

Texas Roadhouse

March 20, 2012 3:39 PM

@JJJ - sounds like you have a personal issue with Gascoyne. You need to wait and see before hurling abuse. And, of course, all teams have made steps forward, so any improvement by Caterham is offset to an extent. But I suppose that's not an argument you would accept, as it might dilute your invective against him.

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