Tag Archives: Caterham

Heikki Kovalainen to drive for Caterham in Bahrain and Spain practice sessions

After only 3 races out of the cockpit, former Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen will drive for the team in the next two race weekends in the practice sessions.

He will take the place of Alexander Rossi, who was originally set to drive in these sessions. Kovalainen will drive in Giedo van der Garde’s car for FP1 and possibly FP2 for both race weekends.

Caterham say the reason for the switch is because of Rossi’s move to the Caterham GP2 team, replacing Ma Qing Hua. However, seeing as Heikki was originally dropped because of financial reasons, rumours are growing that the Finn is preparing a comeback with his former team.

Caterham CT03 revealed

In the first of two car launches today, Caterham have taken the covers off their CT03 challenger.

Interestingly, they have opted not to run the vanity panel on the front, instead opting for a stepped nose similar to last year.

Technical director Mark Smith noted that, as well as the Ct03 being an evolution of last year’s model, work on the 2014 car is already underway.

The livery of the car has also been changed, with the main body predominantly green, with the yellow colours relegated to the back of the car, and black on sections of the front wing.

 

Giedo van der Garde promoted to second driver for Caterham

2012 test driver Giedo van der Garde has been promoted to a race seat for 2013 by Caterham.

After the departure of Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov, there was a huge roster of drivers looking to take one of the last remaining seats before the 2013 season started. It was believed that Adrian Sutil, Jaime Alguersuari, Bruno Senna and Luiz Razia were all in contention.

However, the team has made the decision to promote their test driver to join Charles Pic.

Van der Garde won two races in the 2012 GP2 championship, and previously finished 3rd in the 2011 GP2 Asia Series. He has also won the  2008 Formula Renault 3.5 championship. It is unknown whether the Dutch driver brings sponsorship to the backmarker team.

Alexander Rossi to make F1 debut in Spanish Friday practice

Alexander Rossi will drive for Caterham in Spain

Alexander Rossi will drive for Caterham in Spain

American racing driver Alexander Rossi will make his first appearance in Formula 1 at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The 20-year-old will replace Heikki Kovalainen at Caterham for Friday practice 1.

Rossi has won the 2006 Skip Barber Western Regional, as well as the 2008 Formula BMW Americas and Formula BMW World Final. He tested for the Caterham team – back when it was known as Team Lotus – in last year’s young driver test in Abu Dhabi.

He is currently competing in Formula Renault 3.5 with Arden Caterham Motorsport, partnering Red Bull-back Lewis Williamson.

At the announcement today, Rossi said:

"I am looking forward to getting back into the F1 car in Spain and I want to thank 
the team for the chance to run in FP1 in Barcelona.

I have a clear goal for the session – make sure I run to the plan set by the 
engineers, not make any mistakes and learn as much as I can over the whole weekend."

Kovalainen penalised for safety car passes

Heikki Kovalainen had a difficult start to the 2012 season

Heikki Kovalainen had a difficult start to the 2012 season

Heikki Kovalainen will be dropped 5 places on the Malaysian Grand Prix grid, following a penalty during today’ Australian GP.

The Caterham driver overtook two drivers at the last corner as he entered the pits. However, he had not cleared the safety car line before he made the passes. The stewards investigated the incident after the race, and dealt the Finn the punishment for next week’s race.

He described the penalty as a “bit harsh” on his Twitter feed after the race.

Kovalainen had a troubled start to the season. He lost KERS at the start, and subsequently suffered a DRS failure on lap 6. Despite this, he was classified in 16th, and ran as high as 11th.

F1 2012 season opener preview

There’s only a few days to go until the Formula 1 season kicks off again – the off-season really does fly by.

But there’s no time to waste. With everyone gearing up for a much closer title fight this year, it’s time to take one last glance at the pack, and try to predict how the teams will fare in Melbourne:

Red Bull

Red Bull may well battle with McLaren for 2012

Red Bull may well battle with McLaren for 2012

Nobody can deny that Red Bull will be at the front this year – it’s almost a given.

However, that’s not to say that the Adrian Newey-designed RB8 will run away with the title again. The ban on exhaust-blown diffusers has cut their advantage to the other teams, and further restrictions on front wing flexibility put them under greater pressure over the winter.

Sebastian Vettel is still the team #1 after back-to-back world titles. While Mark Webber is gearing up to challenge his teammate, I don’t think the Australian is up to the challenge. The best indicator of Webber’s performance will be in Australia, where Mark has never finished higher than 5th. If he can break his streak of bad luck, then he may be in with a chance.

Still, I predict a Vettel pole position in Australia – after that nobody can be certain.

McLaren

The MP4-27 may well being McLaren back to winning ways

The MP4-27 may well being McLaren back to winning ways

Pre-season testing has indicated that the Woking squad are back in top form in 2012.

However, they have a mighty challenger in the form of Red Bull. Both teams have tested out radical innovations on their cars, and it is still unclear who possesses the faster car. While Red Bull appear to have good qualifying pace, McLaren have performed well in long-fuel runs, similar to the 2011 season.

Lewis Hamilton’s well-publicised problems from 2011 appear to be behind him. The Brit has admitted he spent many nights partying during the 2011 season, which may well explain his loss of focus. There’s no doubt that Lewis is a fantastically talented driver, but there is also no excuse for underperforming in 2012.

His teammate, Jenson Button, will be looking to capitalise on a relatively successful 2011 season, and is hoping to beat Lewis again. However, if Hamilton has tackled his personal issues, then there may well be a brilliantly tight battle between the two this year.

Ferrari

Ferrari are yet to understand their F2012

Ferrari are yet to understand their F2012

While the front two teams have already established themselves as title contenders before the season opener, Ferrari are still unsure as to their pace. How they react to their radical F2012 will be fascinating.

Fernando Alonso will continue to push the team – and the car – to the limits, and there is little doubt that Felipe Massa will be left trailing behind. Ferrari have a perfect team leader in Alonso, and Felipe’s #1 spot at the team (inherited in 2007) has been well and truly taken away from him.

With such a differing driver line-up, the constructor’s title is already out of reach for Ferrari. However, depending on how Ferrari react to developing their F2012, Alonso may challenge for the driver’s title later on.

Mercedes

Mercedes will be looking to challenge the top 3

Mercedes will be looking to challenge the top 3

If Ferrari even stumble, Mercedes appear poised to snatch 3rd place in the constructor’s table from them.

After two disappointing years following the Brawn GP fairytale, things appear to be coming together for Mercedes. Team principal Ross Brawn has assembled some of the sport’s finest engineers to work on the W03, which showed good pace in pre-season testing.

Despite his age, Michael Schumacher may still be a force to be reckoned with. Nico Rosberg meanwhile will be looking to take his first ever race victory – compared to Michael’s colossal 91 wins.

It is unlikely that the team can challenge for the titles this year, but nobody can fully rule them out. Starting the season at the front is absolutely crucial.

Lotus

Lotus will be looking to establish themselves

Lotus will be looking to establish themselves

With a new name and new driver line-up, Lotus are the midfield team to keep an eye out for.

The Enstone squad have one of the most exciting driver combinations on the grid – a former world champion and current GP2 title holder. It is more than likely that Kimi Raikkonen will assert himself as #1 in the team, but Romain Grosjean may well keep him on his toes.

What’s of more importance to the team is moving up the grid. After the frontal-exhaust disaster last year, the E20 appears to be much faster and more reliable, despite the chassis issue that ruled the team out of 4 testing days.

Like Mercedes, they are unlikely to make a massive jump up the grid, but I would be very surprised if Lotus were to finish any lower than 5th.

Force India

Force India are looking to stay on top of the midfield

Force India are looking to stay on top of the midfield

Lotus aren’t the only team looking to make progress in 2011. After several impressive performances last year, Force India will be looking to push their way to the top of the midfield.

Adrian Sutil has been ditched after 5 years of faithful service, and his F1 career appears to be over. He has been replaced by Nico Hulkenberg, who gets another shot in F1 after a good 2010 campaign with Williams.

The team have recently received a $32m cash injection from owner Vijay Mallya, so finances aren’t an issue. What the team want is a progressively faster car than last year – the VJM05 appears to be delivering so far.

Alongside Paul di Resta, this is another exciting driver line-up. This battle is much more difficult to call, but I think Di Resta will stay just on top.

Sauber

Sauber may struggle in 2012

Sauber may struggle in 2012

Another midfield team looking to make progress, Sauber may find themselves squeezed out this year.

While their driver line-up of Kobayashi and Perez is an impressive one, I fear the team has not kept up with the development of the rest of the grid. The team saw a massive slide in pace during the second half of 2011, and the loss of James Key was a massive blow.

With teams like Force India and Lotus looking to move up the grid, there may be no improvement from Sauber in 2012.

Toro Rosso

Ricciardo and Vergne will battle it out at Toro Rosso

Ricciardo and Vergne will battle it out at Toro Rosso

The latest batch of Sebastian Vettel wannabes are in, and look set to provide an exciting battle for 2012.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo are in, ousting Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, who had well and truly overstayed their welcome. With little to no F1 experience (several races for HRT doesn’t do much for Ricciardo), we have no idea who will end up on top.

The STR7 looks solid, but doesn’t seem to be pushing the team up the order. Most of the focus this year will be on the driver pairing, to see can either of them join Vettel at Red Bull.

Williams

Williams look set for another dismal season

Williams look set for another dismal season

After a dismal 2011 season, it appears unlikely that Williams will recover this season.

The Fw34 has been disappointing in testing, frequently ending up at the back of the pack. Bruno Senna brings a fresh face to the team, but Pastor Maldonado stays on, and frequent readers of this site know how I feel about him.

They may prove me wrong, but I see little improvement for Williams this year.

Caterham

Caterham must make progress in 2012

Caterham must make progress in 2012

After two years stranded in F1’s no-man’s-land, Caterham will be looking to push forward and join the midfield.

Failure is not an option for this team – they have spent way too much money to continue to fall behind teams like Williams and Sauber. Unlike HRT and Marussia, Caterham invested financially according to where they thought they would finish in several years, not where they would end up in the beginning. Banking their future on FIA payouts is risky, but it’s been done in F1 before.

Vitaly Petrov replaces the direly slow Jarno Trulli, and may give Heikki Kovalainen a run for his money.

HRT

Another season at the back for HRT - but that's all that's needed

Another season at the back for HRT - but that's all that's needed

After finally turning a wheel before the opening race for the first time in their history, HRT have made ever so slight progress towards stability – albeit at the back of the grid.

With the oldest driver line-up on the grid, the team will be sorely lacking in pace. However, the most important thing for the team is that they stay afloat – many new teams collapse within the first two years, particularly back in the 1990s.

A neat livery may gain them some fans, but otherwise it’s business as usual at the back of the pack. They may struggle to reach the 107% rule in the opening rounds.

Marussia

Marussia will be looking to beat HRT

Marussia will be looking to beat HRT

After finishing last yet again, Marussia will be looking to pull themselves ahead of HRT in the standings in 2012.

Rookie Charles Pic will find it most difficult, having little to no experience of the MR01 before Melbourne. I would be surprised if he were to survive the 107% chop in Q1.

Timo Glock, after proving his worth against all his teammates so far, deserves better than to be languishing in 23rd place all year, and the future of the team may well rest in his hands. No pressure, of course.

 

Of course, all of these predictions could fly out the window by the first corner in Melbourne! Either way, it’s looking set to be another fantastic season of Formula 1. I’ll be here to cover it every step of the way.

Petrov replaces Trulli at Caterham

Vitaly Petrov takes over Jarno Trulli's seat for 2012

Vitaly Petrov takes over Jarno Trulli's seat for 2012

Vitaly Petrov has replaced veteran driver Jarno Trulli at Caterham for the 2012 season.

The move comes as a shock to many, as Trulli – who has been with the team since it was founded in 2010 – had a year left on his contract.

Petrov, who lost his place at Lotus this year, has been known to carry plenty of sponsorship money, and together with two years of F1 experience, toppled the Italian off his seat at Caterham. This leaves the 37-year-old without a drive for this season.

Team principal Tony Fernandes praised Petrov joining the team:

"We are all delighted to welcome Vitaly into our team and are very excited about 
the role he will play in helping us take the next steps forward in 2012 and for 
many years to come.

When we first met it was immediately clear that Vitaly understands and shares our 
vision for how we want our team to grow. As the first Russian to race in F1 he 
carries the hopes of a huge nation with ease and his talents, experience with one 
of our current competitors and insights on and off track will play a huge role in 
our development as we fight to join the established teams ahead."

Giedo can der Garde announced as Caterham’s third driver

Giedo van der Garde will move to Caterham after 3 years in GP2

Giedo van der Garde will move to Caterham after 3 years in GP2

Dutch racing driver Giedo van der Garde has been confirmed as the third/reserve driver for the Caterham team.

The 26-year-old will take part in several Friday practice 1 sessions throughout the year. He finished in 5th place in this year’s GP2 championship, having run as high as second in the closing rounds.

Van der Garde was a prospect for the final HRT seat, before he was beaten to the post by Narain Karthikeyan.

Despite missing out on a race seat, Giedo was full of praise for the Caterham team:

"The team [Caterham] is fresh, with some fantastic people here. Tony Fernandes is 
extremely ambitious and he has brought in a lot of very good people in to help 
grow this team for future success. I’m looking forward to learning and moving 
forward with the team in and out of the car.

It’s great for Holland that we again have a Dutch driver who is connected to 
Formula 1. Being the only Dutch driver now is very good for the sport in Holland, 
as the interest was perhaps on the decline since the [Jos] Verstappen years, 
however I hope to generate the same excitement for my country and really bring 
Formula 1 to them."

 

Caterham show pictures of new CT01 early

The Caterham CT01 features a "distinct" nose cone

The Caterham CT01 features a "distinct" nose cone

Caterham are the first team of 2012 to release pictures of their race car for the year – the CT01.

The launch was planned for tomorrow, but pictures were released today by F1 Racing magazine. Caterham have since shown one of their official photos on their Twitter feed.

Caterham's official picture of the CT01

Caterham's official picture of the CT01

The rest of the launch and images will be on the Caterham site tomorrow.

The most striking part of the CT01 is undoubtedly the platypus-style nose cone, with much larger front suspension mounts, which are now raised above the nose. This is expected to become the norm this year, as the FIA seek to reduce the height of the nose cones, while teams seek to raise their suspension mounts as high as possible.

The sidepods are much slimmer than last year, and the all-carbon blade roll hoop has been replaced by a more conventional roll structure.

It is clear that these photos of the car include 2011-spec wings and vanes. The CT01 also seems to be more aerodynamically aggressive than its predecessor, which was deliberately conservative. The team are also running a KERS unit in the year’s model for the first time, which should help them challenge the midfield.

The car will make its track debut in Jerez next month when testing begins.

What excites you about the 2012 season?

With Christmas and the New Year out of the way, our focus is turning more and more to the imminent return of Formula 1.

Fans have plenty to be excited about this year, particularly the return of a certain world champion. Before we get stuck into the testing season next month, I want to know what interests you this year. Here are a few examples…

The clash of 6 champions

Can Raikkonen upset the order in 2012?

Can Raikkonen upset the order in 2012?

The return of Kimi Raikkonen means that, barring disaster, there will be 6 world champions at the starting grid in Melbourne. As far as I know, this is completely unprecedented in F1 history, as former/current world champions now make up a quarter of the entire grid.

These six drivers will be seated in vastly different cars, and not all of them will deliver as expected. Raikkonen’s move to Renault is particularly noteworthy, as it is still unclear what type of approach the team have taken to their 2012 car.

As well as this, Michael Schumacher is still well in the mix, and a powerful Mercedes car could propel him back to the podium. We still have the established champions – Vettel, Hamilton, Button and Alonso – to take everyone else on.

The return of the US Grand Prix

The Circuit of the Americas may well get finished

The Circuit of the Americas may well get finished

The Circuit of the Americas has had a difficult birth, fraught with controversy and arguments, resolved only weeks ago. Still, it appears that the track is on schedule to be on the 2012 calendar.

From the get-go, it became clear that this track would be a fan favourite. The layout incorporates corner elements from Turkey, Silverstone, and a small bit of Interlagos is in there too.

There is fantastic incline around the track, and many of the corners are fast and flowing. More importantly to Bernie Ecclestone, this track is F1’s latest hope to crack into the American market, which has been rather cold to the sport since the Indy 2005 fiasco.

Exciting new rookies

Can Pic survive longer than Di Grassi and D'Ambrosio did?

Can Pic survive longer than Di Grassi and D'Ambrosio did?

After Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi were booted out of Toro Rosso, it became clear that we were to see an influx of new rookies. Their latest two drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, are an exciting pairing to say the least.

Ricciardo impressed last year in a HRT – quite the feat in itself – and Vergne has performed well in testing in the past. We also have Charles Pic, the third driver in 3 years to partner Timo Glock at Virgin. Whether he can perform better than Lucas di Grassi or Jerome D’Ambrosio still remains to be seen.

As well as this, Romain Grosjean has finally been given the opportunity to return to F1. It’s debatable whether he’s actually a rookie, but it’s certain that 7 races in 2009 was not enough for the Frenchman to prove his potential. I am quite a fan of Grosjean, and am hugely looking forward to see how he performs against teammate Raikkonen.

Siginificant French drivers – finally

Can Grosjean cause a major upset and beat his teammate?

Can Grosjean cause a major upset and beat his teammate?

Neither Grosjean or Sebastien Bourdais could retain their seats in 2009, and with the imminent exit of Renault as a constructor this year, it appeared as if the French had completely abandoned F1.

However, with the arrival of Grosjean (again), Charles Pic and Jean-Eric Vergne, the French F1 fans have reason to celebrate. The last successful French F1 drivers were Jean Alesi and Olivier Panis, who took his one and only win back in 1996.

I’m not suggesting that these three drivers could win a race in 2012 (though I’m not completely ruling Grosjean out), but there is fantastic potential here for future seasons.

The end of exhaust/diffuser debates

Exhaust-blown diffusers are finally buried for good

Exhaust-blown diffusers are finally buried for good

The FIA have finally stamped down on “off-throttle blown diffusers”, as the layout of the exhaust has been restricted so as to not generate downforce over any area of the car.

Exhaust-blown diffusers were an excellent idea, generating plenty of downforce with minimal drag. However, as the technology evolved into the “off-throttle” format, it became more and more irritating to watch the teams scuffle over the regulations.

This ruling should hopefully end the 3-year debate on exhausts, diffusers and the like, which began in 2009 with double-decker diffusers being introduced by Brawn, Toyota and Williams.

Can Lotus/Caterham hit the midfield?

Another year, another promise from the team  now known as Caterham, as they drive to reach the back of the midfield.

While they have made good progress over the last 2 years, many fans are wearing thin with watching the 3 “new” teams languishing at the back, and it’s time that one of them makes a stand and changes the running order.

I won’t comment on Jarno Trulli, but I feel that Heikki Kovalainen is the most promising chance to pull the team out of the bottom 3. Whether it happens any time soon remains to be seen.

The return of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Just kidding.

Over to you…

I can’t cover all the exciting prospects of the 2012 season, but those above should do fine.

But back to the original question: What excites you about the onset of the 2012 season? Have a say in the poll below, and you can add your own answer if you wish:

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers