Caterham Make Solid Start In Sao Paulo

Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen were optimistic with the way the Caterham CT01 felt on Friday at Interlagos and the stopwatch seemed to agree with them. Petrov was the quicker of the two this afternoon having driven alongside Giedo van der Garde this morning and was right on the tail of the midfield pack, two seconds off the overall pace.

The Russian driver is still looking for improvements on the harder tyre and expects both compounds to provide a challenge if it’s dry on Sunday.

“I think we made some good progress in both sessions and I’m reasonably pleased with where we ended up. In the morning session we ran both the development tyre and the prime we have for this weekend and have a lot of very good data from both. We also tried a couple of different aero configurations which gives us options for this weekend, particularly bearing in mind the chance of bad weather on Sunday. In the afternoon we were looking at fine tuning the setup on long and short runs – we have more to do to get the best out of the harder of the two compounds but the car felt pretty good on the options and we can get even more out of them for the rest of the weekend.”

“One thing that was immediately clear was how high tyre deg is going to be here. It’s completely different to last week in Austin where one stop was the obvious choice – if it’s dry here on Sunday it’s much more likely to be two or three stops so tyre management is going to be key.”

Kovalainen was half a second down on his teammate but was encouraged by Caterham’s pace relative to the cars around them.

“Having sat out FP1 I was back in the car for the afternoon session and it was important to get as much mileage completed as possible. We went through the usual program, focusing on tyre usage and setups on different fuel loads and I think it went ok. It’s a shorter lap here in Brazil than quite a few of the other circuits, but our times looked ok relative to the cars around us and with some more work tonight and tomorrow we should be ok both for qualifying and the race on Sunday.”

Van Der Garde impressed in the morning session, setting the fastest time among the three bottom teams, and was delighted with how he performed.

“That was a really good way to sign off my 2012 FP1 sessions for sure. We got through a decent number of laps and I have to say I enjoyed myself today! The track is great, especially with the 2013 development tyres I was on for the first couple of runs, and it’s good to know I’ve helped the team get through a lot of work that will be really valuable this weekend.”

“I thanked the guys at the end of the session for today and for all the work they’ve done to help me this season. I’ve really enjoyed working with them this year and I feel like I’ve learnt a lot and developed well. Now it’s back to the normal race weekend plan and I hope it’s a good one for the team.”