On this day, the 5th of February, plans of every team start to unfold. Their development paths, their drivers and their operational procedures are put into action. Testing is the time to be reliable, not fast.
But before any of this could begin, Caterham had to launch their car. The 11th hour decision to put Giedo Van Der Garde into the second race seat seemed an unwise decision. Having freshman and sophomore driver in this struggling team is a bold move. One would think they would opt for an experienced driver (with money) to help the development throughout the season. Nevertheless, Caterham made their choice, and yet another rookie is on the F1 grid.
Caterham took the wraps off their CT03 knowing that they won’t have built a world beater. Their goal is still to close the gap to the midfield and maybe score a point or two this season.
The beautiful green and yellow livery we have grown accustomed to since 2010 had been given a slightly more aggressive touch in the form of black wheels and wings. The outlandish yellow wheels are hopefully a thing of the past.
Also apparent in the design is the lack of vanity panel. Along with the Lotus and Red Bull, the Caterham is now the third team on the grid who have opted to disregard their fans’ aesthetic enjoyment and have gone with the benefits of the step in the nose. The debate about step noses and whether to keep them has centered around the downforce benefit you get from the step, but the aero efficiency pitfall. Some have opted for the former, and others for the latter.
The exhaust is fairly conventional. The Coanda effect has been put to good use by all the teams this year, as their designs all show. Caterham have gone for a conventional interpretation of the design in the CT03 in which the “tunnel” for the exhaust pipe exits directly towards the floor of the car.
While the design of the car seems fairly conventional, they will have a far from conventional season. Most likely fighting at the back of the grid, Caterham need to establish themselves in the paddock if F1 is to remain a long-term prospect for the company.