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Sep 03rd
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Caterham downplay opening test pace

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The Caterham team remain confident about their new CT01 car's potential, insisting that they were deliberately running "conservatively" during last week's Jerez test, and will push the car further as the pre-season goes on.

Caterham are hoping to finally break into the F1 midfield with their latest Renault-powered CT01 car, the new machine representing their most inventively-designed car to date.

Despite their hopes, however, the car still appeared slightly off the pace of their rivals during the first pre-season test at the Jerez track last week.

Of the 23 drivers to set times over the course of the test, Heikki Kovalainen ended up the fastest Caterham runner down in 20th place, faster than only Pedro de la Rosa's 2011-spec HRT and the two other Caterham drivers, Giedo van der Garde and Jarno Trulli.

But despite the CT01 appearing to still be slower than their rivals over both short and long runs, the team have insisted that they ran a deliberately conservative pace throughout the test, and will be seeking a quick step forward at the next test.

"We have been running the car rather conservatively in Jerez," explained technical director Mike Gascoyne, "But for the next test we will be bringing aero updates and looking to run the final race one specification at the third test."

He added: "Overall, we are in a much better position going into the season than we have ever been before, so that is the first goal achieved."

Team CEO Riad Asmat also insisted that the team were aware that there was more pace to be found in the car.

"The first test of the season has been a good one for us," he grinned, "When you look at the total mileage we have accumulated here we have clearly started the season with a good, reliable car.

"We know there is pace to come but we also know we have a lot of work ahead of us to make sure we arrive in Australia in the strongest possible position."

He added: "This week we have had the best start to a season yet in our three short years so we will move on to Barcelona in good spirits, with more new parts to come and in good shape to keep unlocking this car's potential."

Meanwhile, driver Jarno Trulli slightly questionably said that the test had been the best one he had ever experienced in the sport, saying that the car ran perfectly despite the team running KERS for the first time.

"I think I cannot remember any better first day testing, honestly, or first week of testing," he told the Autosport website, after getting his first taste of the new car on Friday.

"We ran into very, very few troubles despite the fact that the car is totally revolutionary, and with quite a few new interesting systems on it like KERS."

He also added that he was not concerned by the slow times set compared to the rest of the field, saying that they were sure that they were in the right area to join the midfield fight.

"I am happy despite the times, which are not representative at all, especially for us," he grinned, "We know we have been extremely conservative on the fuel side and if we make some calculations we are probably in the ballpark."

Reserve driver Giedo van der Garde, who got a run in the car on Thursday, backed up Trulli's view, saying: "The car is running very well and I think there is a lot of potential."

Caterham, racing as Team Lotus in 2011, established themselves as the best of F1's new teams throughout their first two seasons in the sport.

However they remained frustratingly slower than the established teams in 2011, and are still yet to score a championship point.