March 15th, 2014 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Both Caterham drivers expressed satisfaction with their qualifying results on Saturday in Australia, after Kamui Kobayashi qualified 15th with Marcus Ericsson 20th in his first ever Formula One qualifying session.
Although Saturday went well for the Caterham team, after Friday it looked like the weekend was going to be a massive struggle - both cars were sidelined from FP1 and FP2 with issues that saw the mechanics working late into the night to fix.
The results that Saturday brought were better than the team would have expected. Having had just the 1 hour FP3 session to set the cars up before qualifying, Caterham would have been satisfied simply to have both cars qualify inside the mandatory 107% time. But the reality was quite a bit better - Kobayashi made it through to Q2 and qualified 15th. Ericsson, although he didn't make it through to Q2, was within a second of his more experienced team-mate and qualified ahead of both Lotus drivers.
As a result of grid penalties for Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez, Kobayashi and Ericsson each move 1 position up the grid. That puts Kobayashi 14th and Ericsson 19th for the start of the Australian Grand Prix. Considering the likelihood of reliability issues for the cars in front of the Caterhams, Sunday's race could present a real opportunity for the team to secure its first ever points, if they can get at least one car to the finish in the top ten.
Here's what the drivers had to say after qualifying in Australia:
Kamui Kobayashi: “That’s a good way to come back, not only for me in my first qualifying session of the year, but also for the whole team after such a difficult day yesterday. The guys worked very hard until just before the curfew this morning and fixed the car after all the issues we had yesterday – that meant we could do 19 laps in FP3 and give ourselves a chance of fighting in qualifying. Honestly though, with so few laps, I still didn’t have the car set up at all as I’d have liked and there would definitely have been a lot more to come if we’d had a normal .
“In qualifying we timed it just right and my fastest lap was set just as it started to rain. It was a good lap but not really close to what we could have done with more running but going into Q2 was a good reward for how hard the team has worked, and I could see just what it meant to the whole team to go into Q2 in our first race of the year.
“ it looks like it could be another day of rain and sun and if we can maintain the improved reliability we’ve had today, I think it could be one of the most interesting races for a long time!”
Marcus Ericsson, car #9: “I am very pleased with how my first ever F1 qualifying session went, especially after how went! Finishing within eight-tenths of Kamui is exactly what I’d aimed for today and to do that with such little running in FP1 and FP2 means a lot to me and the team who’ve worked so hard to get us here.
“In FP3 we managed to work a bit on setup but I was having issues with the engine mapping which meant I was struggling quite a lot with driveability, something that’s really important with these new power units. We made a few changes for qualifying and it worked well – it’s still not really how I’d like it, but it was a good improvement and that means will be a lot better than maybe it had looked last night!
“Now it’s all about the race and I can’t wait for it all to start. It could be a bit crazy but I know what I have to do and I’m fully prepared – it’s going to be a very proud moment for me to represent my country on the F1 grid and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham. They’re a great team who work incredibly hard and I think we deserve more days like we had today. Let’s hope that comes !”