Hingham’s Caterham produced a solid performance in Bahrain as the Norfolk marque continued to make progress in it’s attempts to join Formula One’s midfield pack.

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After a superb qualifying effort from Heikki Kovalainen on Saturday, making Q2 on merit and knocking out Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes in the process, the Finn’s luck turned quickly as he suffered a rear puncture on the opening lap.

Kovalainen recovered well to finish 17th, one place behind team-mate Vitaly Petrov on a controversial weekend in Bahrain.

But as far as the action on the track was concerned, Caterham were a happy bunch.

“I had a good start but then had contact with a car behind in turn 10,” said Kovalainen. “We pitted immediately and from then on it was basically about putting in as strong a race as I could.

“It’s obviously a bit frustrating to have had the puncture on the first lap, but we can take a number of positives from this weekend, particularly from the pace we showed in qualifying and from the way we were able to look after the tyres, so overall it’s been pretty good.”

Petrov added: “That was a really interesting race, particularly at the start when there was a lot of overtaking and it was good to be right in the middle of the early battles.

“It was only towards the end when we had to let the leaders pass that we started losing a bit of time but today’s performance shows again how strong we can be on Sundays.”

The Formula One circus takes a short break before the European season starts in Barcelona next month, and Caterham technical director Mark Smith hopes for further progress during the interval.

“We can be pleased with today’s performance from both cars,” said Smith. “This shows we are definitely making progress, and our qualifying performance gives us good reason to look forward to the European season.

“We have a number of updates planned for the next few races, and more to come throughout the season, so we will aim to keep building on this type of performance and keep edging closer to the teams ahead.”

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