F1 » 6 April 2012
Caterham to get updates for Chinese GP
Caterham F1 is hoping that longed-for early-season updates can help propel its cars closer to the midfield in China.
The Caterham team is hoping that work carried out at its Hingham factory between the Malaysian and Chinese grands prix will pay dividends when Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov hit the track in Shanghai.
Tony Fernandes' ambitious outfit has longed to be in the position to continually improve its machines but it is not until this season, after two consecutive tenth place constructors' championship finishes and the financial boost that provides, that it has been possible. Now Fernandes is hoping that the effort will pay off as his squad attempts to close the gap on the likes of Toro Rosso and Williams in midfield.
"While the race team has had a very well deserved couple of weeks off since the end of the Malaysian race, the work rate in the factory has intensified as we keep up the development fight off track," the Malaysian noted, "This time last year, we wanted to bring updates to each race, but we were not in a financial or logistical position to do so. This year, we can do just that, and that is another sign that we are going in the right direction.
"Before the Australian and Malaysian races, we had a pretty clear idea of where we would be relative to the other teams around us, and the performances we saw confirmed what we need to do to keep bridging the gap to the cars ahead. Over the race weekends, we need to look at improving our qualifying pace, and it looks like we can work more efficiently on maximising tyre performance levels over the whole weekend.
"Back at the factory, the main focus for us is on improving the aero performance of the cars. This is what will give us the chance to fight for the point we want to win, and the fact we can now head into the next two flyaway races with the sort of upgrades we could only dream of last year is a very encouraging sign - and one that shows how hard the whole team is working to help us achieve our goals."
While the Shanghai International Circuit does not offer much in the way of overtaking, texhnical chief Mark Smith is keen to see whether addition of KERS to this year's CT01 will have any effect on improving its chances in the race.
“We know that we still have some margin to work on to extract the best from the car and the tyres in both qualifying and the race, [and] we have been looking at this in detail since returning from Malaysia," he revealed, "We have a number of plans in place to help us move forwards as soon as we get on track in Shanghai.
"The layout of the circuit itself makes overtaking quite tricky, so it will be interesting to see how much KERS helps us, now we have it here for the first time, along with DRS. The track surface is relatively smooth and the kerbs are generally not an issue in China, so we will take these factors into account when we plan the optimum setups for the weekend."
As in both Australia and Malaysia, however, the weather could be an added issue for the teams, especially as they continue to get to grips with this year's Pirelli rubber.
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