Alexander Rossi, the Formula Renault 3.5 driver, will replace Heikki Kovalainen for the first free practice session this Friday at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The American driver is looking forward to his 90 minutes on track in Barcelona, and thanked Caterham for giving him this opportunity.
“I am looking forward to getting back into the F1 car in Spain and I want to thank the team for the chance to run in FP1 in Barcelona,” said Rossi. “I have a clear goal for the session – make sure I run to the plan set by the engineers, not make any mistakes and learn as much as I can over the whole weekend.
“I know how much I will be able to take from my time with the team back to my Formula Renault 3.5 commitments and I know the team will do everything they can to help me maximise my performance on Friday.”
Looking ahead to the race weekend for Caterham, Kovalainen knows that qualifying is more important at the Circuit de Catalunya than almost any other track on the F1 calendar, and that there is no room for error come Saturday afternoon.
“Barcelona's a good circuit where the main challenge is to nail everything absolutely perfectly,” explains the Finn. “If you make a half a tenth of a mistake it can cost you a grid position and it’s a race weekend where you have to focus on the details to give yourself the best chance of success.
“It's a track with a lot of high-speed corners, some where you have to be really on it to save time, and you have to be pretty committed going into the braking zone in T1 as that’s where there is an overtaking chance.
“For the fans it’s often a pretty quiet race because it's a tough circuit to overtake on, but that makes qualifying even more crucial and means you have to get the plan on Saturday absolutely right.”
Team-mate Vitaly Petrov has some fond memories of racing at this track, and is hoping that the team can continue their decent run of form.
“After a good test in Mugello we are all looking forward to getting back to racing in Spain,” said the Russian. “Barcelona is a track I know well and one I like racing on.
“I was on the podium there in GP2 in 2009 and while I know that’s out of reach for us at the moment, we will all be focusing on continuing to take the fight to the cars ahead and repeating the sort of performances we’ve put in so far this season, particularly on Sundays.”
Caterham team principal Tony Fernandes said that the team have had a good start to the season, despite still failing to challenge the more-established teams on a consistant basis. He also praised both drivers for their efforts in the opening four races of 2012.
“We head back to Europe after what has been an encouraging first four races for the team,” said Fernandes. “We may not have quite bridged the gap to the midfield pack yet, but we are clearly much closer than we were this time last year, particularly on race day when we have seen clear evidence of the progress we have made.
“Having been with us for four races now, I am very pleased with the job Vitaly has been doing for the team. He is obviously a fighter and he is pushing his team mate well, especially on Sundays, and that is good for the whole team.
“I think Heikki is due a run of better luck in the races as he has been pushing extremely hard in qualifying, particularly to get himself into Q2 in Bahrain, but he has not had the same luck when the lights go out on race day. Hopefully that will change in Barcelona and we will be able to see both cars fighting to the chequered flag on Sunday.”