Caterham has joined Marussia in launching its 2013 F1 challenger ahead of the start of pre-season testing at the Jerez circuit in Spain.
The team goes into the new season seeking to improve on a difficult campaign last year, where the team failed to take the expected step forwards in performance and instead was only able to secure tenth in the championship standings in the final race of the year.
On the driving front, the team will field a new look line-up for 2013 with Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic replacing Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov, with the new pair at the wheel of a car that features a revised livery compared to the CT01 but is primarily an evolution of the car it replaces.
Revisions to the sidepods and changes to the diffuser and cooling are amongst the major changes to the design, with further updates to come after the first race of the year in Australia.
"CT03 is the first car we have produced in the Leafield Technical Centre so it marks an important milestone in the development of our team,” technical director Mark Smith explained. “The season ahead presented us with an interesting challenge early in the design process as it is the last year of the current regulations before the introduction of the new engine rules in 2014. With that in mind, we decided that CT03 would be an evolution of CT01 rather than a complete re-design, allowing us to focus our resources on developing areas of last year's package where opportunities would give us the greatest return, while also beginning work on the 2014 package.
"We have made a number of significant changes to the car that takes it from the package that gained us tenth place in the championship in Brazil in 2012 into CT03. Among the most obvious are around the lower chassis where the sidepods have been significantly undercut to improve airflow to the rear of the car. The diffuser, engine cover and cooling exits have also seen major changes and there are more subtle improvements to other areas of the car, such as the sidepod turning vanes and the lower tea-tray area. This is the package we will take to race one in Australia and as part of the 2013 upgrade program we will then bring new front and rear wings and a new diffuser soon after the start of the season.
"Personally I am excited about the season ahead, and the challenges that face us. Regardless of the resources and budget available, all the teams will be racing in 2013 with one eye on next year when the new rules may present opportunities to make significant gains, much greater than those available under static rules. Our whole team is ready for its fourth season in F1 and I am sure it is going to be another thrilling championship."
While the team will hope to make further progress up the order, there has thus far been less of the bravado seen in recent seasons when it comes to pre-season predictions, with team principal Cyril Abiteboul staying more grounded in his expectations for the year ahead.
"This is the first car we have produced since I joined the team so this is a proud day for me,” he said. “I am very pleased that we have been able to allocate our resources and budgets as efficiently as possible to produce a car that will allow us to consolidate our position in Formula One whilst also starting work on the 2014 car as early as possible.
“Charles and Giedo are both young and dynamic and we expect that their enthusiasm for the sport and the team will be fuelling our growth. Additionally, they provide clear proof of our dedication to developing young driver talent and now, any aspiring driver who dreams of F1 can see that there is a clear route to the F1 grid under the guidance of the Caterham Driver Development Program, the 2013 format of which will soon be presented.
"The move to Leafield was the last big piece of the jigsaw, and now we are settled in our new, permanent home, we are in the process of increasing our integration level to better control the quality, cost, and lead time of our supply chain. I am confident that this will ultimately translate into faster laptimes to reduce the gap with the midfield cars. CT03 is the first car to be built in Leafield and while we are realistic enough to know that we are not going to be the fastest car on the grid, we do think we will have one of the best looking cars in 2013. I will be working so that one day we have both!"