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Gascoyne: Caterham aiming for midfield in 2012 26 Jan 2012

Caterham CT01 Mike Gascoyne (GBR) Team Lotus Racing Chief Technical Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 26 November 2011 Caterham CT01 A Team Lotus team photo.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 27 November 2011 Caterham CT01

Pre-season testing is yet to begin, but Caterham already have a fixed idea about where in the constructors’ standings they want to end the year. As their 2012 car was officially unveiled online on Thursday morning, chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne made it clear that the team are optimistic of stepping into the midfield with the help of the newly-launched CT01.

“Until we run the car, we only have numbers and simulation data to work with,” Gascoyne said in an interview with the team, published on their official Facebook page. “But every team wants to move up the grid and we're no different. We finished 10th in the last two years, which has been our target, but now I think it's time we moved forward again.”

The green and yellow-liveried CT01, which will be driven by Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, is the third car to be produced by the Norfolk-based team, and for a second consecutive year boasts a Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox. Gascoyne is hopeful this consistency in suppliers and technical staff could help the team achieve their goals.

“The design of the car has been progressing since early 2011,” he explained. “It's the first year of real stability for us on the technical side, and by keeping the Renault Sport F1 engine and Red Bull Technology gearbox, we know exactly what we're working with and what we can expect. Each year so far we've effectively not only had a new design team but also a new gearbox and engine combination. Now, however, we have a very stable design team under our technical director Mark Smith, and this means we can take a much bigger step forward in terms of the detail of the design.”

One standout feature on the new Caterham is its distinctive ‘platypus’-style nose, but this is expected to be a common sight this year, with new safety regulations for 2012 relating to nose height coming into force. One notable absentee is a blown diffuser, as they have been banned, but Gascoyne believes Caterham will be helped rather than hindered by the tighter rules.

“Aerodynamics is always the main focus of performance and improvement,” he explained. “Last year it was all about the blown diffuser, which we struggled with because not having it in 2010 meant we were always playing catch up throughout the 2011 season in comparison to other teams. The fact it's banned this year certainly plays to our advantage.

“Other teams had so much more development time, they were able to get much more out of it than we were ever able to, so that eliminates a little of the competition in terms of technical development. But really, aerodynamics is always one of the main features of development and that's why we've put so much additional resource into it.”

Another ‘resource’ Caterham - and the team’s drivers - will have at their disposal for the first time this season will be KERS. And Gascoyne hopes having the technology could be just what the team need.

“Towards the end of last year it really started to affect us racing with the midfield cars,” he explained. “It hurt us in qualifying and in our eventual race positions. At the last race in 2011, Heikki made a good start and gained a lot of positions but then lost out by not having KERS. Having KERS embedded into our 2012 car is another good step forward for us. We had our best ever qualifying in relation to the cars ahead of us in Brazil, and with KERS we could have possibly out-qualified a few of them. So, again, we have another good reason to be very positive about 2012.”

The CT01 will make its track debut at the first multi-team test of the season, which will take place at Spain’s Jerez circuit from February 7-10.

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