Tony Fernandes says Caterham proving they have made Formula One progress

Team principal Tony Fernandes believes Caterham's lap tally in their opening winter test proves the strides the Hingham-backed team has made.

Putting the CT01 on track for the first time in the constructor's third pre-season Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli and reserve driver Giedo van der Garde completed 332 trips around Jerez over four days.

Given last season the team's opening sessions were disrupted by delayed deliveries for spare parts and issues on the car, this year has seen a marked improvement.

'The number of laps completed is something we never came close to last season; for that reason we really have arrived as a Formula One team and to accomplish it in two years is something I'm extremely proud of,' Fernandes told the Press Association. 'The start we have made in testing has already far exceeded my expectations.

'For me, if we had scored a point last year then it would have been a lucky one based on other people's misfortunes. This year, and I know it's only the first test, but we can really go into a race and think, 'yeah, we have a chance'.

'That's based on what we have seen so far because there are still another two tests to go. But you would tend to think a team like ourselves, from where we are coming from, has a chance to improve further than established teams.

'We've CFD (computational fluid dynamics) up and running, we are ramping up for a 24-7 wind tunnel, and so there is every chance.'

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Two sessions in Barcelona await before the season starts in Melbourne on March 18.

Times remain notoriously difficult to read during tests and while Caterham's efforts have been some way off the top teams, Fernandes hopes Caterham will be troubling the likes of Toro Rosso, Sauber and Williams in 2012.

'The first test I went to Sauber looked so damn fast, and then they ended up somewhere where we were,' he added. 'So it's very hard to tell what people are doing with tyres, fuel and everything else.

'You would think we should again be ahead of the likes of Marussia and HRT, and at the moment we seem to be giving one or two of the established teams something to think about.'

The second four-day winter test takes place in Barcelona, starting on February 21.