Caterham officially unveil the CT01 for 2012

Caterham CT01

Caterham CT01

Jan.26 (Reuters) Malaysian-owned Caterham emerged at the head of the pack on Thursday as the first of the Formula One teams to show off their new car.

Neat back side

If the green and yellow CT01 was unlikely to win any beauty parade, with some branding the ‘platypus-nosed’ car downright ugly, technical head Mike Gascoyne was sure it would not be alone.

“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,” he said on the team’s facebook page.

The rules have been changed to limit the height of the nosebox to try and ensure noses are not 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,” said Gascoyne.

Former F1 designer Gary Anderson, now a technical analyst for the BBC, said the nose’s ridges and bumps were inevitable.

“The nose on the Caterham looks pretty stupid, but everyone’s going to be heading in that direction with the new rules,” he said.

Renault-powered Caterham were Team Lotus last year, and Lotus Racing in their 2010 debut season.

They have yet to score a point, like the other two ‘new’ teams, but they have the KERS kinetic energy recovery system for the first time this year and have set a top 10 finish as a priority.

(L to R): Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus with team mate Jarno Trulli (ITA) Team Lotus. Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday 24 June 2011.

Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen

Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen and Italian Jarno Trulli are their named drivers, although there has been lingering speculation about the latter’s race seat. The season starts in Australia on March 18.

Gascoyne said the new car had passed all the mandatory crash tests and would be ready for the first pre-season test in Jerez, Spain, from Feb. 7.

“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, and by keeping the Renault Sport F1 engine and Red Bull Technology gearbox, we know exactly what we’re working with and what we can expect,” he said.

“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.”

“Until we run the car, we only have numbers and simulation data to work with,” said Gascoyne.

“We finished 10th in the last two years, which has been our target, but now I think it’s time we moved forward again. Let’s see what happens we get out on track.”

“It’s no secret that we’ll have KERS on the car this year. 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.”

“Having KERS embedded into our 2012 car is another good step forward for us. We had our best ever qualifying in relation to the cars ahead of us in Brazil, and with KERS we could have possibly out-qualified a few of them. So, again, we have another good reason to be very positive about 2012,” concluded Gascoyne.

Caterham have been using the Williams wind tunnel as well as one in Italy, with aerodynamics the focus as they try and move up the pecking order from 10th place overall last year.