April 5th, 2012 (Andrés Rojas).- After a long break, the action is back with the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai, immediately followed by the Bahrain GP. Caterham F1 team –formerly Lotus Racing- is showing a more stoic optimism about the forthcoming races as they feel the team is a bit away from finishing or getting real close to the points zone.
The Shanghai circuit is not a technical one, it features a smooth surface and it is somewhat easy on braking, but it requires a well-balanced car. Overtaking requires a good effort, but we guess the DRS and KERS will help everyone on the grid. Caterham cars did not have neither last season, so those arrived as a plus.
Mark Smith, the team Technical Director commented : “The layout of the circuit itself makes overtaking quite tricky so it will be interesting to see how much KERS helps us, now we have it here for the first time, along with DRS this year.”
"Externally, we will be running the cars in high downforce configurations and we have bodywork updates targeted at increased load and more efficient cooling, given the lower ambient temperatures we will to see in Shanghai. China is not especially tough on brakes but we also have a couple of updates in this area." He Added.
Tony Fernandes feels more optimistic and shows a great sense of reserved professionalism by saying that team still needs to work towards the objectives, but for him, they’re in the right track.
Caterham has grown into a more reliable better funded organization with each year in Formula 1, and in its third season, things appear to be even more encouraging in the long run.
“This time last year we wanted to bring updates to each race, but we were not in a financial or logistical position to do so. This year we can do just that, and that is another sign that we are going in the right direction.” Fernandes said.
As relative to the race itself, the Team Principal commented: “Back at the factory the main focus for us is on improving the aero performance of the cars. This is what will give us the chance to fight for the point we want to win, and the fact we can now head into the next two flyaway races with the sort of upgrades we could only dream of last year is a very encouraging sign, and one that shows how hard the whole team is working to help us achieve our goals."
As for most of F1 drivers after last GP at Malaysia, Kovalainen and Petrov flew out to the west, but the Finn decided to stay a bit closer at Abu Dhabi, so no to suffer the hard consequences of the jetlag.
For Kovalainen good balance under braking seems to be the ultimate set up goal: “The key bit is probably into T11, 12 and 13 - making sure you get the braking into T11 right so you can carrry as much speed as possible through 12 and 13 and out onto the straight. Get that right and you give yourself a chance to fight at the end of the straight.”
As for Vitaly Petrov, the call from mother Russia was too strong to pass, especially given the three week break. As his teammate the Russian agrees with the importance of the turns 11 through 13.
“It's not a particularly hard circuit to drive, it's not too technical but you have to make sure you get it right through the tight section from turns 1 to 4, and the same from 11 to 13 as you head onto the straight. You can make up or lose quite a bit of time in both those sequences and that means setting up the cars to have the right balance between the high speed run down to T14, meaning less drag, and the slower turns in sectors one and three, both of which need much more downforce.” Petrov said.