Caterham F1 had looked set for a strong outing in Monaco as they lined up for the start of Sunday's Grand Prix on the streets of the principality, with Giedo van der Garde having earned a career-best 15th place on the grid and his team mate Charles Pic also up into 18th place, both of them ahead of their back row nemeses from Marussia as well as the out-of-position Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Unfortunately, all the high hopes and expectations of maybe coming away from Monte Carlo with a point or two soon faded away as troubles hit both drivers early in the race.

"I made a good start from 15th but then [Williams' Pastor] Maldonado hit me, damaging the floor and meaning I had to come straight in for a new nose on lap 1," explained van der Garde of how that hard-earned grid position had been squandered.

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"I rejoined in 22nd and at that point, even though I had good pace and was catching the pack up again, it looked like my race was over, especially after losing KERS on lap 10," he admitted. "We were able to reset KERS and then Monaco did what it always does, and when the safety car came out for Massa's crash I was able to unlap myself and get back into the action.

"In the car it felt like I couldn't have any less luck, but then on lap 45 I was with Chilton, Bianchi and Maldonado when they had their incident," he sighed. "I didn't really see what happened between them, but obviously the red flag gave me a chance to start again, this time from 18th.

The intermission proved to be a silver lining for the Dutch driver: "From the restart, on soft tyres and with 28 laps to go, I was holding position in 17th after Chilton's drive-through and then the second safety car came out and I moved up to 14th when a couple of cars ahead pitted," he recalled. "I was right behind [Williams' Valtteri] Bottas, in front of [Sauber's Esteban] Guti?rrez, but unfortunately after 13 laps the tyres were destroyed.

In the end the race came down to a battle over 14th between van der Garde and his Marussia counterpart Max Chilton, and the Caterham just didn't have the edge it needed to hold on. "I had Chilton right behind me and with the tyres in the state they were, I couldn't hold him off so I finished 15th."

That was still a much better day than it had looked early on - and certainly a result that Charles Pic would have been eyeing up enviously, considering his race ended after just seven laps of the Monaco street circuit with the back of his car in flames.

"It looks like the cause of the retirement was a gearbox problem and the fire was from the exhausts which had overheated," the Frenchman explained later. "It looked a lot more dramatic than it felt in the car; I could feel there was a problem and started pulling over and as soon as the car stopped there was a lot of smoke, but it was all out quickly and the marshals did a good job to clear it away without bringing out the safety car.

"It's obviously disappointing for my race to end that early, especially as I'd made a really good start and was running in 15th ahead of Gutierrez and just behind [the Force India of Paul] Di Resta on the same pace as him when I had to stop," he added.

"It's a shame as we'd had a good weekend until that point," he said. "The car felt great in the race and as our deg levels were good on the long runs we were looking at stopping only once which could have put us right in the middle of the action."

Now the only thing for Pic to do was put his disappointment behind him and turn his attention to the next race on the F1 calendar.

"We're in Canada next, at another circuit where I think we'll be able to show how the car's pace keeps improving, and with a bit more luck we'll be in a position to have a better weekend," he said.