0995LB1DX2197
Kobayashi tried a 1-stop race but ultimately lost the fight with Jules Bianchi for 15th (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)
0

Caterham Positive Progress being made despite Austrian Struggles

Caterham remain rooted to the bottom of the World Constructors’ Championship after seeing Kamui Kobayashi finish sixteenth and Marcus Ericsson eighteenth at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

Kobayashi had originally planned a two-stop strategy but attempting to keep Jules Bianchi in his Marussia behind him, he switched to a one-stop strategy once it was clear Bianchi himself was trying that idea. Unfortunately for the Japanese drive, the Marussia’s strategy was a longer first stint than the Caterham managed, and as the race progressed Kobayashi’s pace dropped off and ultimately he lost the battle with Bianchi by over half a minute at the flag.

“I didn’t have a great start but then recovered and passed my team-mate and Bianchi and was running well for the first stint,” said Kobayashi. “We’d started on supersofts and they held up well, right until we boxed on lap 14 for a set of softs.

“Our original plan was for a two stops and with our race focused on the Marussia’s, as soon as it became clear Bianchi was stopping once, we decided to switch the strategy into the second stint which meant I had to manage that set of softs for 55 laps to the flag. Unfortunately that didn’t work, as with about ten laps to go I couldn’t hold him back as he was on supersofts and had the pace to pass. We tried something and this time it didn’t work, but ultimately we probably didn’t lose anything as we were really only fighting him.

“Despite that I think we have to take quite a few positives from this weekend as our performance relative to our nearest competitors improved quite a bit. Our reliability has been much better this weekend and the set-up change we made on Friday night paid dividends again today, as I was pretty easily able to pass the lead Marussia and pull away early in the race. From where we were on Friday, and in the last couple of races, that’s a good sign and we know we can improve again at Silverstone so I’m already hungry to get back and fight again there.”

Despite ending the day behind Max Chilton’s Marussia-Ferrari, Ericsson was relatively happy with how his race progressed, especially after expecting to be off the pace after being slow in FP1 and FP2. Unlike his team-mate, the Swede made two trips to the pit lane but felt he lost the battle with Chilton after being delayed by a Ferrari going down pit lane as he was due to be released.

“I’m pretty pleased with my race today as the gap to our direct rivals on Friday looked like it would be much more than it was today,” said Ericsson. “I had a really good start, passing a couple of cars, but we’d planned to stretch out the first stint on softs to around lap 28 so I didn’t want to kill them defending so early in the race.

“The first stop was good, going onto a set of new supersofts, which performed really well until about 10 laps into the stint, and then they started going off so we boxed again on lap 43 for a set of softs to the flag. Unfortunately we had to extend the second pit stop by four seconds because of a Ferrari in the fast lane of the pitlane and that meant I came out about 12 seconds behind Chilton.

“The car felt good and within a few laps I had the gap down to around three seconds, but then the blue flags really kicked in and cost me a lot of time. They’re obviously part of the race, especially for us, and even though they make life even more tough, particularly on a small track like this, it’s still something I’m learning. We’re nearly halfway through the season and I’m definitely improving, and I’ll take that as another lesson – without that I think it would have been a much better fight to the flag, but 18th is still ok, especially considering where we were in FP1 and FP2.”