Caterham F1 owner Tony Fernandes reckons his team is now 'achingly close' to scoring its first points.
The Hingham-based outfit enjoyed a promising weekend in Valencia, and with more updates to come at Silverstone, Fernandes believes Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov could spring yet another surprise.
“The European Grand Prix was a very significant race for our team as it was the first time we took on and beat an established midfield team in a straight fight on merit in qualifying," Fernandes said. "Yes, Heikki's benefited from the issues Mark Webber had on Saturday, but we are now quick enough to take advantage of that sort of opportunity and knock one of the established teams back into the positions we have been filling since we started in the sport just over two and a half years ago.
“Our performance on Sunday was also extremely positive, with all areas of the team performing at 100 percent to help us record our best positions of the season, despite both cars being forced to change nosecones after contact with the Toro Rossos. We said at the start of the season that our goals for this year are to score our first point and to join the midfield and I think it is fair to say that we are achingly close to being able to achieve those targets.
“Silverstone will give us another chance to show that we can make good on those objectives and the upgrades we are bringing will give both Heikki and Vitaly the chance to repeat our qualifying performance in Valencia, and, more importantly, to be able to fight for their track positions from the moment the lights go out on Sunday, right to the end of the race.
“To see our cars racing a team who were 1.6 seconds ahead of us in qualifying for the first race this year is obviously a very good feeling, for me and my fellow shareholders, our partners and sponsors, our fans and the whole team.”
Caterham F1 technical director Mark Smith meanwhile was also pleased with how the European GP went.
“We left Valencia after a very positive weekend for the whole team. One of the most pleasing aspects for me was seeing that the numbers we had predicted for the upgrades we brought there matched what we did on track, and that gives us a lot of confidence that future upgrade packages should continue the trend we are seeing of the gap to the teams ahead shrinking,” he added.
“For Silverstone we will be bringing a number of new parts, including new rear bodywork, a revised exhaust layout and a number of smaller updates in other bodywork areas around the car.
“I do not want to make any predictions at this point on what they could be worth, but if we repeat the step forward we made in Valencia we should have another positive weekend.”