The Caterham F1 team arrive in Bahrain having seen both cars finish the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend, with Kamui Kobayashi finishing thirteenth and Marcus Ericsson one place further back. They leapfrogged Marussia into the all-important tenth place in the championship in the process.
Both drivers are hopeful for a stronger race in Malaysia, while Dutchman Robin Frijns will make his first appearance in a free practice session for the team when he takes over Kobayashi’s car for the first session of the weekend. All three drivers are looking forward to the weekend ahead in Sakhir, and are ready to build on the promise of Malaysia.
Kobayashi knows the reliability of the car seems to be improving and believes his team now have a better understanding of what the car can do on track.
“Next it’s back to Bahrain for race three, back at a track we’ve already spent a couple of weeks at this year in the pre-season test where we managed to build up some pretty good mileage at a time when our reliability was good, something that will be really important this weekend,” said Kobayashi. “We also now have something to build on, both in terms of performance and from where we are now, in tenth place in the championship and with targets ahead that we know we can race with.
“Yes, we performed well in Malaysia for much of the race, but that was with a car that had almost no meaningful set-up work done on it and with more still to come from the power unit. It’s vital we have a full weekend so we can pick up where we left off in Sepang and continue to improve across all areas of the car’s performance.
“Reliability really is the main focus for Bahrain. We need to have three good practice sessions so we can go into qualifying and the race with an optimised set-up giving us the chance to really find out what the real performance level of this car is.
“Our ability to develop is what will be crucial this year. Our development program is starting in Bahrain with the first new parts coming from the work we’ve been doing in the TMG wind tunnel and it’ll be good to see how they perform.”
Team-mate Ericsson is happy to have completed his first race in Formula 1 having retired first time out in Australia. But like Kobayashi, he knows the car set-up is far from ideal and is looking forward to optimising the car sooner rather than later, rather than just concentrating on reliability.
“I left Malaysia feeling pleased that I’d finished my first full race, and excited about what we achieved on Sunday at Sepang,” said Ericsson, who crashed during the first part of the wet Malaysia qualifying session. “It was tough – even though we’d completed quite a few laps on Friday and Saturday, we still went into the race without an optimised set-up due to the issues we had on Friday and the work we had to do overnight to rebuild the car on Saturday and Sunday, so the most important thing in Bahrain is to have a trouble free weekend.
“Also, the Bahrain circuit characteristics should suit our car better than Sepang so we may be stronger here than in Malaysia, relative to the competition. I obviously know the Bahrain circuit well after the tests and, like Malaysia, that means we can get on with the program right from the first laps in FP1.”
Third driver Frijns is delighted to be running in free practice one in Bahrain, as he continues to assist the team with the development of the car. He will also be running one of the two days of the post-race test at the circuit.
“I’m excited about being back in the car for my first FP1 of the 2014 season with Caterham, especially as I already have experience of the car at Bahrain from the day I did in the pre-season tests. It’ll be interesting to see how much progress we’ve made across the whole car since I last drove it, but my focus will be on helping the team prepare for the race weekend, something I know I can add value to, assuming we have a problem-free session!
“It’s another chance for me to continue to learn as much as I can about operating efficiently with the team on track, building on the work I’ve been doing with them in the simulator back at Leafield, and I can’t wait to get back to work!”