Tony Fernandes looking forward to Caterham’s Malaysian introduction
Team principal Tony Fernandes admits Caterham will struggle to match the performance of their first visit to Malaysia three years ago, when they made it into Q2.
However, the Malaysian businessman is hopeful the team's race pace will still make the Hingham-based, Malaysian-licensed outfit's home race one to remember.
Caterham left the 2012 opener in Australia with only two retirements to show for their efforts, although their performance in qualifying was an improvement on last year.
And having left behind the turmoil of battles over the Lotus marque, Fernandes is optimistic over both this weekend and the future for his Formula One team.
'This is our third visit to one of our two home races and the first for us as Caterham, with the legal wrangles we have been involved in for the last two years now behind us, firmly in control of our own destiny and writing a brand new chapter in our story,' said Fernandes.
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'I am very glad we are back home as Caterham and it feels like only yesterday that we were making our debut at Sepang, and recording what was for us an historic first appearance in Q2 in only our third ever race.
'While I would obviously like to see us repeat that in 2012 I am not sure if we are quite there yet. We have obviously improved our pace relative to our 2011 speed, but the teams ahead have also improved, so even though we are closer than this time last year we still have work to do to bridge the gap in qualifying.
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'However, in the race I think it looks like a different matter. At the end of last year we were agonisingly close to a number of cars ahead, and this year our race lap times in Australia were on a par with at least three cars ahead.
'With a bit of luck, which obviously deserted us in Melbourne, I think the Malaysian race will give us a chance to show just what we have achieved over the winter, and that gives us good reason to be optimistic about the weekend ahead.'
Meanwhile, Heikki Kovalainen plans to make sure his five-place grid penalty this weekend does not have a negative impact. The Finn was penalised retrospectively for overtaking under the safety car as he ducked into the pits in Melbourne.
'I've been looking forward to getting back to Malaysia and after the race in Australia it's good that we can get straight back on track so quickly,' said Kovalainen.
'I've accepted the penalty I was given for passing Vettel under the safety car – it was definitely a bit harsh but the rules are set and it's just unfortunate I made a small mistake that will put me back five places on the grid at Sepang.
'It's not really a problem – we know we can pass the cars that will probably be ahead on the grid and I'll just have to do my best to put myself as far up the grid as I can on Saturday so we can minimise the effect of the penalty in the race.'