Caterham face struggle to become points contenders

2013 F1 season previewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, Jerez, 2013Four new teams were granted entries to the 2010 world championship. US F1 didn’t even make it to the first race, HRT collapsed after three seasons. That leaves Caterham and Marussia as the only survivors.

Caterham (who raced as Lotus in 2010 and 2011) have always been the better-funded of the two. They’re now in their third year with Renault engines and Red Bull gearboxes, and their second season using KERS.

Given that, there’s understandable disappointment that the team are yet to score their first point and only narrowly beat Marussia last year.

The team’s move to a new technical base last year has brought them geographically closer to their rivals. But reducing the gap between them on the track is proving a stubbornly difficult task.

Replacing the experienced partnership of Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov with an all-new driver line-up is not going to make that easier. Team principal Cyril Abiteboul has distanced himself from owner Tony Fernandes’s previous claims that the team were on the cusp of their first points finish.

“On the surface it may look like we?re starting 2013 in a similar position to 2012, but inside the team it is very different,” said Abiteboul.

“We have a base in Oxfordshire in which we now control all elements of the design and production in-house. The wind tunnel we use has been upgraded to meet our exact specifications and is now producing results that turn into definite improvements.”

“We are continuing to improve the efficiencies and working practices within the team so we can compete both on track and as a viable business with a secure long-term future and we are bringing in talented people at all levels to keep pushing us forwards.”

The minimum reward for that has to be keeping ahead of Marussia, who it nearly lost out to in 2012. But hoping for more than that at the moment seems unrealistic.

Car 20: Charles Pic

Charles Pic, Caterham, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Charles Pic joins the team from Marussia after a quietly impressive debut season. He often qualified well and put pressure on team mate Timo Glock.

With a new driver (and former GP2 team mate) alongside him, Pic finds himself in the role of team leader. His year’s experience will be a valuable asset to Caterham in what is likely to be a year-long contest between them and Marussia.

Car 21: Giedo van der Garde

Giedo van der Garde has been on the periphery of Formula One for a long time.

Though he clearly has talent – he won the Formula Renault 3.5 category in 2008 – he is fortunate to have had sustained backing from the likes of MacGregor that have allowed him to make his long-awaited ascent to Formula One.

Van der Garde’s appearances for the team in practice sessions last year has helped him build a rapport with them. But racing at the back of the grid will be an adjustment after four years of finishing in the top ten in GP2.

Caterham CT03

Caterham championship form

2012 2013
Championship position 10
Wins 0

Caterham in 2013: Your view

Will Caterham finally score their first point in 2013? What do you think of the team’s all-new driver line-up? Have your say in the comments.

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Images ?? Caterham/LAT