Caterham: Australian Grand Prix race day report

Press Release

Race: Dry, sunshine, air temp 25° / track temp 30° (start), 22° / 25° (lap 34), 22° / 23° (lap 58)

Heikki Kovalainen
1631 leave for grid, two laps
Start on soft tyres
Lap 15: pitstop 1, medium tyres
Lap 36: pitstop 2, medium tyres
Lap 41: retired – left front suspension issue

Vitaly Petrov
1631 leave for grid, two laps
Start on medium tyres
Lap 19: pitstop 1, medium tyres
Lap 36: retired – steering wheel issue

Team Quotes

Heikki Kovalainen, car 20, chassis CT01-#3: “Both Vitaly and I had to avoid the problems in turn one at the start and then I lost a bit of time behind Glock, but got past him quickly and then started to show good pace, enough the close the gap to the cars ahead. I lost DRS until about lap six, and had to switch off KERS right at the start, so the sort of times we were doing were clearly competitive. Both stops went well but then I felt the car starting to pull left under braking so we brought the car in to take a look and it seems like a front left suspension problem was causing the handling imbalance I’d felt for a few laps before we had to retire. I’m sure we can fix both problems for next week and we have shown today what a step forward we’ve taken, so it’s not bad news, it’s just one of those days.”

Vitaly Petrov, car 21, chassis CT01-#2: “I was having a fantastic race and it’s such a shame we had to retire the car. Until that point everything was going exactly to plan. The team did a great to job to help me pass Heikki in the first stop, I was catching Senna and Massa ahead and the car felt really well balanced. I was managing the tyres well and we definitely showed the sort of pace that can bring rewards this season, so while it’s obviously not how we wanted the first race with my new team to go we can take a lot of positives from this and move on to Malaysia where we know we can put in a strong performance.”

Thierry Salvi, Renault F1 Sport Support Leader: “Despite the final result that was a good performance for us. Heikki lost KERS early on so his times were very strong without the obvious benefits the system gives him. Vitaly was also pushing hard right up until his retirement, and was using his tyres well, so we have a lot of reasons to be happy today.”

Mark Smith, Technical Director: “Today we showed the sort of pace that we knew this car was capable of in pre-season testing. We ran different tyre strategies on both cars, starting Heikki on the options and Vitaly on the primes and both cars were running to plan through the first stops and right up until the problems we had in mid-race. Vitaly’s issue was related to his steering wheel and he deserves great credit for putting in such a strong performance on his first race with the team. With Heikki it looks like a front track rod issue was causing his car to pull to the left in the braking zones so we had to retire him, rather than risk an incident. However, I am very encouraged by our performance in the race and we have a good platform to build on. It is clear that we can race with a number of cars in the midfield so we will move on to Malaysia and make sure we have a strong weekend in front of the home fans.”

Riad Asmat, Caterham Group Chief Executive: “We have a great deal of very good news to take out of today. Obviously we did not want to finish like that, but after both Heikki and Vitaly negotiated their way around the first corner clash we were quickly up to speed with the likes of Force India, Williams and even Ferrari, and that’s very encouraging for next week in our first home race of the season in Malaysia and the season ahead. We have work to do to make sure we cure the problems we encountered today, but we will do just that and come back even more strong in Sepang.”