Caterham pin hopes on upgrades for European Grand Prix at Valencia
By Berthold Bouman
Caterham are looking to improve their pace with new car upgrades for this weekend’s European Grand Prix, and the next race at Silverstone, according to Technical Director Mark Smith.
“We have a couple of quite significant updates coming in Valencia and Silverstone — we will take a look at a number of new aerodynamic elements in Valencia as well as some minor modifications to the floor, and even though we will not know exactly what they will give us until we get out on track, we are cautiously optimistic they will help us keep edging ever closer to the midfield,” Smith explained.
Team Principal Tony Fernandes is optimistic ahead of the race in Valencia, “At the next two F1 races, in Valencia and Silverstone, we will see the fruits of the hard work being done by everyone at the factory with a number of important upgrades on the cars.”
Fernandes is aiming for a position in the midfield, but he knows it will not be easy. “We are honest enough with ourselves to know that these upgrades alone will not be enough to force our way into the midfield pack, we do know it is a statement of our intent to join the group just ahead that we are updating the car at the same rate or even more quickly than our rivals,” the Malaysian entrepreneur said.
Caterham’s aim this season is to score World Championship points, and Vitaly Petrov is adamant his team will succeed. “I think the Valencia race and the next one at Silverstone could be pretty positive for our team. We have a few updates coming onto the cars at the next two races, and we keep seeing how the gap to the teams ahead is closing, little by little. That is the aim this year – work as hard as we can to get to the point where we’re racing a couple of cars ahead and then see where we go from there,” the Russian said.
The Valencia track is hard on the brakes, according to Heikki Kovalainen. “The track surface is very smooth and the kerbs aren’t really an issue but it is pretty stop-start, so you need to quickly find a good rhythm to manage the series of long straights that end in tight turns, and pay attention to brake wear rates and cooling,” he said. Also tyre degradation will play an important role, “We’ll be looking closely at setup options that mean we can manage tyre degradation levels right through the whole weekend.”
Part of the progress Caterham has made season can be attributed to the Renault engine, also the engine of choice of Red Bull, Williams and Lotus. Kovalainen is currently 19th in the Drivers’ Championship, Petrov is 23rd and Caterham is 10th in the Constructors’ Championship.