After a morning-long hiccup that prevented it from taking up its slot between Red Bull and Force India, Caterham was finally able to reveal its 2014 F1 contender, the CT05, midway through the first afternoon of testing in Jerez.
The new driver pairing of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson helped uncover the first car to be fully designed and built at Caterham's Leafield Technical Centre, which appeared in the marque's new all-green 2014 livery.
For the fourth year in a row, Caterham's contender will be powered by Renault, using the French manufacturer's new Energy F1 engine mated to a Red Bull Technology gearbox, but the main talking point as the CT05 emerged from the garage was, as with the majority of its rivals, the treatment given to the front-end and, particularly, the nose section.
With new aero regulations mandating a change for 2014, Caterham has provided another variation on a theme, with a long finger extending between a truncated nose section and the front wing, not overhanging the latter like McLaren, Toro Rosso and Force India have decreed, but not necessarily as attractive an option at those followed by Mercedes and Red Bull.
"Despite the major rule changes introduced this season, our design philosophy was actually only slightly different to usual for a totally new car,” technical director Mark Smith explained, “We have still sought to maximise aero and mechanical performance within the regulations, but there has been more emphasis than usual placed upon weight reduction and, bearing in mind how critical reliability will be this year, we have been slightly more conservative in the areas around the new power unit - cooling systems, exhausts, heat management etc.
"At the front of the car, the area that will obviously inspire most debate, we have focused a lot of effort on optimising flow structures around the nose, the front of the chassis and the reduced-width front wing area, all in response to the 2014 regulation changes. However, the package we start testing with is by no means our definitive answer and we fully expect to evaluate alternative solutions throughout the course of 2014, particularly now our 60 per cent scale work has started in the TMG wind tunnel in Cologne and our improved Dell/Intel HPC (High Performance Cluster) is coming on stream, significantly stepping up our CFD resource.”
Despite following the same basic philosophy when it came to designing the CT05, Smith and his team have had to incorporate some different ideas in order to accommodate the revised regulations, and the tech chief concedes that things are inevitably bound to change before and after the opening race of the 2014 season, in Melbourne, next month.
"Overall, there were a number of other major areas the design team focused on,” he confirmed, “[For example] the front chassis height led us to opt for pullrod suspension, which gives us the best solution from both a mechanical and aerodynamic perspective.
“Another focus area was cooling - charge air cooler packaging has driven the cooling architecture and consequently the sidepod and rear-deck bodywork and, at the rear end of the car, our development has been driven by the removal of the beam wing, again as per 2014 regulations, and the exhaust blowing effect we've seen in recent years. This has created a challenge all teams will face, how to recover the rear load generated by those areas in previous seasons, and, again, something that will continue to develop throughout the season ahead."