Caterham exhaust set to spark first controversy of 2013

Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03
Giedo van der Garde in the Caterham CT03

When Caterham unveiled its 2013 challenger – the CT03 – in the Jerez pitlane early on Tuesday, observers immediately spotted a bright new livery, the stepped nose and a suspicious exhaust concept.

“Cool!” said Dutch rookie Giedo van der Garde when asked what he thinks of the new green hue.

“Last year it was a little too dark, which sometimes didn’t look good on TV,” he told Dutch magazine Formule1. “We have had a good response so far.”

On the technical side, according to one publication, the CT03 is not lacking in innovation, with one aspect of its exhaust solution already raising eyebrows.

“There is one feature of the Caterham’s exhaust that I don’t think will be there when we get to Melbourne,” said Lotus technical boss James Allison.

Racecar Engineering magazine said the feature in doubt is a ‘flow-conditioner’ in the exhaust channel, which may fall foul of technical regulation 5.8.4.

Another noticeable feature of the CT03 is its nose, still stepped as in 2012 despite the FIA allowing teams to smooth it with a vanity panel for 2013.

“This is the package we will bring to Australia,” technical director Mark Smith is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace.

Van der Garde was happy with his first day in the cockpit on Tuesday.

“It feels different (compared to the 2012 car),” said the 27-year-old, who last year completed the championship as Caterham’s Friday practice driver.

“The front feels good, gives me a good feeling. But so far the back is not to my liking. I have nothing to complain about. We knew in advance that our expectations are not too high and we would not suddenly be right in the middle of the pack.”

But Caterham has not sent out the best message of financial health by ousting its highly rated salaried driver Heikki Kovalainen.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Finland’s MTV3: “Kovalainen deserves to be in formula one in his own right. It’s a shame that the financial situation is requiring teams to have drivers with a budget, but unfortunately that’s the way formula one has been for at least 30 years.”

However, Caterham team boss Cyril Abiteboul insisted: “Our team is in a healthy position. We are still a small team,” he is quoted by Blick newspaper, “but our goal is to be the most efficient team in formula one.”  (GMM)