Heikki Kovalainen has declared himself happy with the performance of the Caterham CT01 after testing a brand new front wing during practice in Melbourne. The first day's official running in 2012 was heavily disrupted by rain but there was time for some dry running at the end of both sessions.
Kovalainen was 17th in the drier first session before finishing an excellent eighth in the slightly damper FP2 and explained that he could already feel a step forward from the new component despite the variable conditions.
“The car felt good from the first proper run this morning and we found that the baseline we had set over the winter carried over exactly as we had planned into today’s practice sessions. It’s a shame that the conditions today meant that we couldn’t test the tyres more, but that’s the same for everyone, so the main thing was that we had a good balance all day, and kept improving the setup in both sessions. It’s also good to see that the new spec front wing that we ran both this morning and this afternoon is giving more grip overall, so that’s another positive step forward and puts us in good shape for tomorrow.”
New teammate Vitaly Petrov bemoaned the famously unpredictable Melbourne weather which restricted his running but was still taking positives from his first official day in Caterham colours.
“That was a reasonable day for me. The weather meant we weren’t able to try too much with the setups and we had a small problem this morning that cut short the final run, but one of the main things for me today is that I feel very comfortable with the team. We’re quickly building up a good relationship between me and the engineers and the mechanics, so as that keeps growing we’ll be able to get more out of the car and keep finding the pace that we know this car has.”
Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne feels a picture is starting to emerge of the pecking order amongst the teams but admits the confirmation won't come until qualifying tomorrow afternoon.
“Obviously the weather today made it a potentially difficult first day, but we got through most of what we had planned and it’s good to see that Vitaly was comfortable in the car from the first laps this morning. We ran all the tyre compounds bar the options today so we have some useful data to go through tonight and overall I think we look ok. It does look like the midfield group is going to be very tightly packed and I hope we can have a dry qualifying session tomorrow to find out just how competitive we can be.”
Caterham Group CEO Riad Asmat thinks the team are exactly where they hoped to be and is excited to see the end result in qualifying.
“We obviously can’t tell too much from the times today but it is encouraging to see that we are lapping consistently in the sort of times we have been aiming to. Now the focus turns to tomorrow when we will hopefully have more dry running and find out just where all the hard work over the winter has put us.”