The Caterham F1 team had a mixed race weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit which saw the team slip back to the bottom of the championship standings behind the Marussia team. Kamui Kobayashi finished the race in Sakhir in fifteenth position, but team-mate Marcus Ericsson was forced to retire just after half distance.
“Yet again both drivers did a good job with all the settings and were able to race on pace with both Lotuses, Marussia’s and Sauber’s,” said Renault Sport F1 track support leader Cedrik Staudohar. “The chassis-engine package is improving with each session as we understand more about its strengths and the aim is clearly to keep this upward trend going.
“Unfortunately Marcus’ race came to an end due to an oil leak, which was linked to an issue with the MGU-H. On Kamui’s car we were forced to save fuel at the end of the race as we gained a lap under the safety car, but we’re now looking forward to the test next week and the next race in Shanghai.”
Kobayashi qualified nineteenth on the grid, but his fifteenth place finish was not enough to keep the team ahead of Marussia in the championship with Max Chilton finishing up the road in thirteenth.
“I had an ok start but had an issue on lap one with a setting that gives us full boost and energy release – we sorted that out quickly and I passed Marcus for 18th, then went after Bianchi who I caught and passed on lap 10,” said Japanese driver Kobayashi.
“My race pace was good in the first stint and the tyre degradation was what we’d expected so we stuck to the strategy and boxed for the first time on lap 15 for another set of options. I came out behind Marcus and Chilton but got in front of them both and went after [Pastor] Maldonado in 16th but with the performance level of the car now I wasn’t able to catch him.
“We were on a two stop strategy so we came in for the mediums on lap 35. I was fighting with [Esteban] Gutierrez but let him go as he was on a different strategy and there wasn’t any point ruining that set of tyres just to race him, but then the safety car came out and I was able to make up the lap and was up with Maldonado and [Romain] Grosjean just as the safety car came in.
“After the restart I had to save fuel so couldn’t keep pace with the pack and that was pretty much the end of my race. Finishing 15th isn’t great but we really couldn’t do any more today. We’ll have to regroup for China and with a few updates we have for that race we’ll aim to make progress there.”
Unfortunately team-mate Ericsson failed to see the chequered flag for the second time in three races. The Swedish driver pulled over to the side of the track on lap 33 with an oil leak while running ahead of Chilton.
“My start was good and I was up to 17th by the end of lap three, fighting with Grosjean and then went after [Jules] Bianchi,” said Ericsson. “The car balance really didn’t feel great and Kamui had better pace than me in the first few laps plus my tyre degradation wasn’t great so we made our first stop on lap 11 at the same time as Chilton – the guys did a good job and I came back out still ahead of him at the start of the second stint.
“The car still didn’t feel great on the second set of tyres and I couldn’t hold back the Marussia or Kamui who was on a different strategy to me. I kept pushing up to the second stop on lap 26 when we went onto the third set of options and came out ahead of the Marussia again but then after a few more laps I lost power and was told to stop the car because we had an oil leak.
“It’s obviously disappointing not to be able to finish the race, especially as the car was feeling much better as the fuel level dropped. Still, for me it is another part of the learning process and with every lap I’m racing my education continues. Now we have a couple more days of testing in Bahrain and then it’s off to China for another new track for me. We’ll have some new parts there so we’ll work on optimising them with set-up and come back fighting in Shanghai.”
The F1 season resumes April 20th in China, and both Kobayashi and Ericsson will be hoping to reclaim that tenth spot in the championship from Marussia.