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Caterham 'messed up' in 2012 - Fernandes

ESPN Staff
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Tony Fernandes: "Last year was a real disappointment" © Sutton Images
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Caterham owner Tony Fernandes has admitted his team "messed up" last year in the pursuit of extra performance from its exhaust blown diffuser.

The team is now in its fourth year in Formula One but is still rooted to the bottom of the grid alongside Marussia, which also joined the sport in 2010. Fernandes said his outfit had been overambitious last year when John Iley joined as head of aerodynamics and the team tried to gain extra aerodynamic performance from the exhaust.

"Last year was a real disappointment and I thought by this year we would definitely be in the midfield - if we hadn't have messed up last year, we could have been," he said in Monaco on Friday. "When John Iley came over to us last year we tried to be a bit too clever with the blown diffuser and it screwed us up. If we had just continued on our normal path we probably would have been in the midfield by now so we've learned the hard way."

Fernandes said the team is now making progress and is going in the right direction ahead of a change in the engine regulations in 2014.

"Every week we are getting significant [downforce] points in the wind tunnel, as opposed to what was not very aggressive growth over the first two years. I also think we have got the right people now, but would I say we are 100% where we want to be? No.

"We have a nice facility in Leafield and we're going in the right direction. I'm not saying we are going to be world champions any time soon, but I do believe if we continue this way then we have a good chance of progressing."

Fernandes has now stepped aside as team principal but insisted he is still committed to the team and the Caterham brand, which is currently developing a road car with engine partners Renault.