September 18 2014 Latest news:
Michael Bailey, Formula One correspondent
Friday, April 4, 2014
It was two races in, at last season’s Malaysian Grand Prix, that Caterham’s Formula One dream arguably found its lowest ebb. Not because of the Hingham marque’s own efforts – but because Jules Bianchi took a superb 13th place finish among the early season squabbling.
• Pole position – Daniil Kvyat: The Russian rookie made it two points finishes in his first two grands prix for Toro Rosso; he already looks at home and impressive on the F1 grid.
• Stalling – Sergio Perez: Things weren’t supposed to get worse after Australia – but that’s what happened for the Mexican, as his Force India didn’t even make the start in Sepang; that his run of avoiding DNFs was protected by a DNS won’t be a consolation.
Despite there being another 17 races, Caterham couldn’t find a 13th-placed finish of their own and for the first time since the new teams arrived on the F1 grid in 2010, the lean green machines found themselves behind one of their fellow newbies Marussia.
The damage wasn’t particularly financial. The extra revenue comes with finishing in the top 10 of the constructors’ championship for two out of the last three years.
But any repeat this season, and Caterham would have a huge revenue hole to fill and no obvious way of filling it.
"What’s happened was maybe not what I expected, but what I did was correct... I feel really, really relaxed inside the team"
So while we are still only two races into the new season, it’s worth noting how useful Caterham’s finish was this year in Sepang. A double finish too, which was no mean feat given free practice verged on a nightmare and even qualifying saw Marcus Ericsson’s car left in a heap in the middle of the track – I bet the engineers were up late sorting out that little skirmish.
Kamui Kobayashi’s superb 13th finish, backed up by Ericsson’s economical drive to 14th, was lovely news for Caterham on several counts – the position, the pace of the car and gain on those teams just up the road. It all bodes well, with the promise of relatively more to come when the upgrades start to be delivered from Leafield.
“It’s been a tough weekend, really tough for everyone, but we’ll head to Bahrain knowing we have something to build on, and something to defend – that’s a big positive and I can’t wait to get back in the car in a few days time and start all over again,” said Ericsson.
Indeed – here’s to that and more to come, Marcus.
• There was a great stat from Autosport before the action in Malaysia – only six times in the last 25 years has the driver on top of the championship standings after two races not gone on to win the title.
That is bad news for Lewis Hamilton, whose domination of Nico Rosberg in Malaysia still only garnered 25 points at the end of the race. Rosberg is still leading the way.
Needless to say, Mercedes’ current and sizeable advantage is one they have to make the most of while they can – because Red Bull are coming.
Sebastian Vettel’s Malaysia form was hard to ignore. And no doubt the silver arrows won’t be ignoring it.