Caterham's Kamui Kobayashi has expressed grave concerns about the new CT05 following the second 2014 F1 pre-season test in Bahrain, adding that currently the Leafield-based outfit would probably be better off using a GP2 car.
Kobayashi was in action on days two and four of the test in Sakhir last week, concluding proceedings a lowly 16th on the combined times
, his best effort a 1 minute 39.855 seconds, leaving him more than 6 seconds off the pace set by Mercedes man, Nico Rosberg.
It is a situation that clearly worries the former Toyota and Sauber pilot, as he looks to bounce back after having to spend 2013 on the sidelines.
Asked what is the difficulty in race trim and if it is just the speed or reliability, he replied: “Both – everything! We are not at race pace. In race condition at the moment we should bring a GP2 car - it is like that, the lap time is similar to GP2. We have so many car problems and we need to do a lot of work. If we had to race now, I think, it [the car] is not [at] F1 [level].
“But when I look at the base lap time [and what we could do] it is amazing - the possibility is there. We need to work a lot and it looks like we have a lot of steps to do. We will try and work and progress. I just need to believe in them and then we will see in Melbourne [the season opener].”
“It is very difficult to say [if the gaps will be so big there],” he continued in a chat with reporters, including Crash.net
, at the BIC on Saturday. “It is difficult to predict. I don't know the engine system – what we have is very difficult. It is very difficult to guarantee, there are lots of new things. We have had power problems and we have had to stop. In the races we will have to go at maximum power and maximum recovery - that is the first target. If we can go maximum recovery we can start working a little bit more. It is very important for us that we don't lose time. We have to move right now or else we will be very weak. I believe the next four day test will be pretty important for everybody - and our team especially. Also the engine guys [Renault] have a lot to do.
“We will have to see...”
Pressed on if he is worried, Kobayashi added: “Of course. When we look at the lap times we need to be worried. I cannot be happy. I have to think what I need to do and time is very limited. With all the changes time is very important.
“We need to influence the laps time and investigate and prioritise to ensure we finish races. We need to think about this side as well as performance. We are limited but we have to try whatever we can.”
Despite his obvious concerns with the CT05, however, Kobayashi insisted he is happy with what he has found since joining Caterham.
“We respect each other and we will try and reach our targets and improve by working very hard. It is just not working properly at the moment. It is not what we expect. I don't think our car has a big problem but it is very difficult to see what we have in terms of performance. But it seems not to be stupid. We will see what we can do. Everybody is frustrated. We can't do the programme stuff. We have so many test items and test lists – but there is nothing to do as the car is not running [well enough]. We are just waiting and having lunch. We are coming here to test not to eat.”
So will they be just after a finish in Australia?
“I am not looking for that. I am looking more at the potential and if we can catch up,” he continued. “That is very important part of why I am here. I am not just thinking of finishing races. I need to look also at performance. This is the biggest challenge for this team and I am trying to help. There are possibilities but at the moment we are off the pace.
“This year will be a big challenge for us. Everyone is trying the maximum and I know the guys are doing everything they can. We're working hard. All the guys are doing that and I believe we can achieve something that we want,” he concluded.