#9 Marcus Ericsson – Sweden – 11 Starts, 0 Points, Best Finish: 11th (Monaco), Championship Position: 18th
#10 Kamui Kobayashi – Japan – 11 Starts, 0 Points, Best Finish: 13th (Malaysia, Monaco), Championship Position: 22nd
I think its fair to say that Caterham have disappointed during the 2014 Formula 1 season, and as a result Tony Fernandes called time on his F1 dream and sold the team to a Swiss and Middle-Eastern Consortium.
The signs the team were going to struggle began at the first corner of the opening race of the season in Australia when Kamui Kobayashi, who walked away from a Ferrari World Endurance Championship drive to return to Formula 1, lost the use of his rear brakes and collided with the Williams of Felipe Massa.
Team-mate Marcus Ericsson, the first Swedish driver in F1 since Stefan Johansson back in 1991, has taken the team’s best result of the year so far with an eleventh place in Monaco, but overall neither Ericsson nor Kobayashi have been able to show their true pace on track for a number of reasons.
Reliability has not been Caterham’s strong point during 2014, with Kobayashi retiring four times from the opening eleven rounds and Ericsson five! It’s not just in the race the team have issues, with both drivers experiencing difficulties during practice and qualifying during the season.
On top of the car breaking down more often that it should, the pace of the car has not been great either. They had fallen well behind their perennial rivals Marussia while under the leadership of Fernandes, and while recent races (and the banning of the FRIC suspension) have seen the team be more competitive with their main adversaries, they are still comfortably the slowest team on track.
Canada was perhaps the team’s low point, with both drivers almost a full second adrift of Marussia on a lap that took less than 80 seconds. Their race was no better, with both drivers retiring before the end of lap 24, Ericsson with a turbo issue and Kobayashi with suspension failure.
Since the consortium took over, and Christijan Albers took the helm of the team from Fernandes, the team have seemed to have turned a corner, and with updates promised for the upcoming Spa-Francorchamps round in Belgium, hopes are high that the team can bring themselves closer to the midfield pack, where Marussia currently sit at the end of.
While hopes are high for a more competitive second half of the season, the chances of taking tenth in the championship away from Marussia and Sauber (who currently hold that tenth place) are small. Marussia have scored two points, and while Sauber have yet to score they have come very close and should score soon. Caterham have yet to be close, save for the eleventh for Ericsson in Monaco, which was due more to the unreliability of others than of outright pace.
Caterham have been in Formula 1 since 2010 (originally under the Team Lotus name) but have yet to join the midfield runners, even with the massive rule change that came into effect this year. Tony Fernandes has already walked away, as has their test driver Alexander Rossi, and 40+ employees have lost their jobs. It’s a time of change for the team, but can that change bring results… only time will tell.