Caterham team and drivers report from the Chinese Grand Prix, Round 4 of the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship, at Shanghai International Circuit;
Kamui Kobayashi, car #10, chassis CT05-03: “Finishing 18th isn’t the final position we’d want, but after a really good battle with Jules I’m relatively pleased with how today’s race went. However, it’s a real shame that my move on him on the last lap now doesn’t count due to the mistake with the chequered flag, something we had nothing to do with. We’d had a really good battle for the last few laps of the race and I got him on what was the last lap, until it turned out the chequered flag had been waved a lap too early by mistake – until we found that out after the race it had been good to see what a small victory like that does for the team as it lifted everyone at the end of a very tough first four races of 2014.
“I didn’t have a great start but still made up a couple of places on lap one and was having a good fight with Maldonado until lap 18 when he got past. The guys did a very good pitstop when we came in for the first time for new mediums on lap 11, helping me stay ahead of him until halfway through the second stint, but our car is simply not competitive enough on options tyres to hold him and once he was ahead I didn’t have the pace to fight back, so from that point we were focused on beating the Marussias.
“We stuck to the original three stop strategy and that gave us a few interesting moments, particularly with Vettel who I was told I could pass as he was fuel saving and on old tyres and I was on new softs on the third stint. I hear he wasn’t too pleased about that but relative to him I had the pace then to immediately pull away and did so to avoid compromising our plan.
“Obviously though the real battle for us was with the Marussias and when I came out on new softs after my final pitstop I was able to catch Chilton quickly and then closed the gap to Bianchi in a few laps, despite the traffic at that point in the race which always makes our own race very difficult. It was a really good battle with Jules, clean racing and I finally passed him going into the hairpin at the end of the back straight, having feinted left in turn 11 so I had a better run on him onto the straight which set him up for the pass into turn 14. As I say, through no fault of our own that result now doesn’t count but we’ll just have to dig deeper in Spain and fight back there.
“Even though we had good race with Maldonado for the first third of the race it’s clear we don’t have the outright pace to fight Lotus or Sauber yet, but we have a good package coming for Spain and we are determined to try and close the gap. The first four races have been hard, but having both cars finish today shows the progress we and Renault have made with reliability. Now we have to build on that and use the next couple of weeks to recharge ourselves so we can come back stronger in Barcelona.”
Marcus Ericsson, car #9, chassis CT05-01: “For me the whole race was dominated by understeer. On every set of tyres the balance just wasn’t there and that meant I couldn’t really push at all. It’s good that we got to the end of the race, but if I hadn’t had that understeer I’m sure I’d have been quicker.
“My start wasn’t perfect and I was behind both Marussias at the end of lap one. We did the first stint on softs and they started graining pretty quickly so we boxed for mediums for the second stint on lap 10. We added a bit more front wing to try and help with the understeer but it didn’t really help so I just couldn’t push any more than I was. It was the same for the third and fourth stints which we did on softs but by that point I was pretty much on my own so just focused on getting to the end of the race.
“This is obviously the last of the early season flyaways and when we start the European season in Spain it’ll be back at a track I know really well. As a rookie that’s obviously good for me and with the amount of time I’ll be in the factory and in the simulator between now and then, and with the new parts we have coming in Barcelona, I’m sure we’ll come back stronger there and ready to make progress there and in the next few races.”
Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 track support leader: “Today we had no issues on the Power Unit side and worked with the team to get the maximum performance possible. The final result is not exactly what we wanted to achieve but we’ll take advantage of the three weeks between Shanghai and Barcelona to work on performance and help the team deliver in the European season.”