Crash.Net F1 News
Caterham 'running conservatively' at opening test
11 February 2012
Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne insists that there is more to come from the first caterham F1 car after a low-key debut for the CT01 at Jerez.
Although the team was first to reveal its 2012 challenger - setting the scene for the new 'platypus nose' design trend - and the first to hit the track on Tuesday, courtesy of Heikki Kovalainen's sighter lap, it remained towards the bottom of the timesheets throughout the four-day session.
For Gascoyne, however, that was no reason for concern.
“I think we can be very pleased with how the first test has gone," he claimed after four days of largely trouble-free running that set the week apart from previous first tests in the guise of Team Lotus, "Apart from an issue with the starter on day one, the car ran absolutely faultlessly throughout the whole test, which is a real tribute to the work put in by the whole team.
"We completed the whole test programme, working with KERS for the first time and, for me, this has probably been the best first test I have ever been involved in throughout my career."
With the introduction of KERS after two years of being handicapped by its absence, it was important for the team to learn about the system, as well as trying to gather data on other areas of the all-new car. Gascoyne insisted that few risks had been taken during the session, but promised that there would be more to come in the remaining brace of tests in Barcelona.
“We have been running the car rather conservatively in Jerez but, for the next test, we will be bringing aero updates and looking to run the final race one specification at the third test," he revealed, "Overall, we are in a much better position going into the season than we have ever been before, so that is the first goal achieved.”
Kovalainen was followed in the cockpit by new reserve Giedo van der Garde, with veteran team-mate Jarno Trulli taking over for the fourth and final day. And, after putting another 117 laps on the car, the Italian shared some of Gascoyne's enthusiasm.
“My first impression of the car was that it is good – a definite progression from 2011 and a good basis for us to work on for the season ahead," he reported, "Its reliability has been demonstrated all week here in Jerez and we have generated a lot of data, particularly on KERS and the 2012 tyres, which will help us improve set-ups for the next couple of tests.
“We know there's a lot more to come in pure pace – perhaps we were the only team to run without dropping the fuel - but we wanted to focus on running through the development programme and making sure we completed the plan each day."
After struggling with the power steering system on last year's Lotus T128, Trulli was delighted to find that that, and other areas, had been improved.
“For me, there are a couple of real positives from today," he confirmed, "I hadn't used KERS before and, despite the extra buttons it means on the wheel, it's pretty simple to get used to it quickly. I think we'll see the benefits of that more and more as we keep learning how to get the most out of it.
"Also, for me, the car felt balanced pretty much straight away. The power steering is good – we can keep fine tuning it, but I think it's basically a good package with a lot of potential for us to work on. A good way to start the season.”
Caterham Group CEO Riad Asmat was equally encouraged, but sounded a note of caution, aware that the rest of the field would be pushing just as hard to refine their packages ahead of the opening round in Melbourne in five weeks time.
“Jarno ran another very impressive number of laps today and, when you look at the total mileage we have accumulated here, we have clearly started the season with a good, reliable car," he noted, "We know there is pace to come, but we also know we have a lot of work ahead of us to make sure we arrive in Australia in the strongest possible position.
"This week, we have had the best start to a season yet in our three short years, so we will move on to Barcelona in good spirits, with more new parts to come and in good shape to keep unlocking this car's potential.”