Nancy Knapp Schilke, F1 correspondent
Caterham F1 was the first FIA Formula One team to unveil their 2012 contender, the CT01. Their plan was to show the new green Air Asia car on the cover of F1 Racing magazine on Thursday the 26th of January. The glitch happened when some of the British-based magazine’s subscribers ended up with early copies so instead of waiting, the team released a photo late Wednesday night of the new green-yellow livery of the Air Asia car on their official twitter account.
“I am thrilled that we broke cover first and that the CT01 is the first example anyone has seen of a 2012 car,” said Team Principal Tony Fernandes. “I think I am riding on some very good energy at the moment!”
This car represents another step forward for us.
Last year, Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli scored enough points to finish 10th in the Constructors’ championship standings under the Team Lotus name. Over the winter, Fernandes made the name change and for the 2012 season, they will still have Renault engines and the Red Bull Technology gearbox. Even though this is not their first design and development of a Formula One car, the initals reflect the changes made by the British-based team and of course the “01” represents the first Formula One car built under the Caterham name.
“Caterham is the name we will race under for many years to come, but we still have the same DNA we have had since day one, back in 2009. We are the same team but every day we are growing stronger and what underpins that growth is the people in our team who have been with us since the early days, and the people who have come on board and share our vision. We are still very proudly green and yellow and I think that says rather a lot about who we are,” said Fernandes.
Chief Technical Officer Mike Cascoyne said, “The design of the car has been progressing since early 2011. It's the first year of real stability for us on the technical side. Each year so far we've effectively not only had a new design team but also a new gearbox and engine combination. Now, however, we have a very stable design team under our Technical Director Mark Smith, and this means we can take a much bigger step forward in terms of the detail of the design - and that really showed in the homologation process.”
The team will use KERS this season and they, like many, are pleased that the blown diffuser is now banned. “Towards the end of last year it really started to affect us racing with the midfield cars. It hurt us in qualifying and in our eventual race positions. At the last race in 2011, Heikki made a good start and gained a lot of positions but then lost out by not having KERS,” said Cascoyne.
The most noticeable difference is actually the nose which has already drawn both positive and negative comments when the first photo was released. “The regulations have changed to limit the height of the nosebox to try to ensure that noses don't get too high. Our challenge is that you always want to get the chassis as high as possible to allow clean air flow to the underside of the car, and what you see on the CT01 is our solution to that,” explained Cascoyne. “As we're the first car out it is obviously stirring up a lot of debate, but because of the 2012 regulations I think you'll probably be seeing this type of nose on most of the cars this year.”
Both drivers return for the 2012 season but they were not present for the unveiling. Both the Finn and the Italian will be ready for the Formula One official pre-season test in Jerez, Spain on February 7-10.
“This car represents another step forward for us. The detail right across the whole package is light years ahead of where we were when we first started out, and we are all excited about seeing what it can do when we get on track. I'm also very pleased that we were able to show our fans the car so soon,” Fernandes said.