Renault head of track operations Remi Taffin says he expects Caterham to finally break into the top ten at a race this season.
Although the Leafield squad has yet to score a point in three years of trying since it joined the F1 grid in 2010, Taffin says that the time has come for the Renault-powered CT03 to erase that record.
While the three other Renault-powered teams all claimed wins in 2012, albeit unexpectedly in the case of Williams, Caterham failed to trouble the top ten until the season finale at Interlagos, when Vitaly Petrov's last-ditch eleventh spot ensured that it secured the final rewarded place in the constructors' championship.
“We can now say that we work very efficiently with Caterham, and it is difficult to see a big difference with the bigger teams, operationally speaking,” Taffin insisted in a pre-season interview, “Obviously, the cars fielded by teams are always different, but we trust Caterham to score their first point this year. All the signs are good as they are now settled in their new facilities, the workforce is larger and more experienced and the budgets are completely in line with what is needed to succeed. It's going to be a really good day when we score points together!”
Of course, Renault's biggest chance of success in 2013 continues to lie with Red Bull, although Lotus is showing that it can be a contender, and Williams may again surprise with the FW35.
“We share the same fighting spirit as Red Bull,” Taffin claimed, “We like them to push us and we are always proud to answer quickly and efficiently to their requests. It is even more rewarding when we are able to propose new solutions to make the car faster. We need to secure our reliability to get back to a normal position and then we will be able to push the limits again. That is why we have worked so hard on reliability.
“Rather than returning
to winning ways, I think it is normal to see Lotus winning and we will keep on supporting them in the same way. We did not change our working pattern when Renault left the team to Genii. Obviously, we still have a very close relationship with the Enstone-based team and we always welcome new ideas and give them as much help as we can. They are clearly involved in filling our dynos' schedule!
“More importantly, however, is the fighting spirit we have built up within the individual engine teams - we want every team we supply to be a potential race-winning team.”