Caterham F1 team has launched its 2012 Formula 1 challenger, the CT-01 ahead of any other Formula 1 team so far. The team that was formerly known as Team Lotus/Lotus Racing has opted out from their two years on conservative design and started fresh with more radical design departures compared to T128 that competed in 2011 F1. Among the notable design features are the stepped nose design, tightly packaged sidepod and the inclusion of KERS for the first time.
From the side profile, the stepped nose is clearly visible. The front cone is noticeably lower than the tub towards the centre length-wise of the car. This is due to the newly enforced 2012 rules that stipulates that the nose cone is pegged at 550mm height after the front wheel centre line. The central tub height is as per current rules which maxed at 625mm tall. FIA imposed the height limit to prevent the team from raising the nose further up in their quest to maximize the airflow underneath the car leading towards the diffuser. This is more important than ever as the exhaust blown diffuser has been outlawed, hence there is an expected reduction is downforce.
The exhaust gas now exits the car from the top of the sidepod, ala the periscope outlet that was popular before the blown diffuser debuted. The sidepod of CT-01 is heavily tapered towards the bottom, and plunging towards the back, reminiscent of the all-conquering RB7. The rear fin exit duct is a familiar sight from the 2011 champion too. However, this is hardly surprising as Caterham F1 has maintained the deal to use the Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox, which necessitates the similar packaging and the pull rod rear suspension setup. More after the jump.
Mike Gascoyne, Caterham F1 Chief Technical Officer reckoned the ban of blown diffuser plays an advantage to his team. This is because they were struggling to catch up with such device in 2011, as they have no prior experience from 2010 in using it, unlike many other F1 team. This will levelled the playing field somewhat.
Mike Gascoyne also admitted that the lack of KERS really hurt them in 2011. Heiki Kovalainen especially, has made a few stunning starting lap, but eventually lost positions as he has no KERS to defend his position after that. Heiki reckoned that KERS is worth 4 tenth a lap, so it is a significant addition.
Team Principal Tony Fernandes said that the main aim for 2012 is to score a point. They were badly hurt last year with the lack of EBD and KERS, so for this year, the chief aim a point or two and want to fight with the mid-fielder.
Personally, I am quite interested to see how the team progress. I really hope they have moved from the bottom three group, which is running their own GP really. With Malaysian engineers on board ( are they still there?), patriotically, this is one of the team to cheer for!