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Caterham targets midfield at next two races

ESPN Staff
July 16, 2012 « Russia promises 'top-class' F1 circuit | Marussia rules out car problem as cause of de Villota crash »
Caterham is confident it will show its true potential over the next two races © Sutton Images
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Caterham is confident it will take the fight to the midfield over the next two races and is hoping to show the full potential of its latest upgrade at next weekend's German Grand Prix.

The team had been hoping for a step up in performance at the British Grand Prix, but bad weather during practice and qualifying and problems in the race meant the car failed to impress. However, technical director Mark Smith believes Caterham will be in the mix with the likes of Toro Rosso at the coming races.

"The back to back weekends in Germany and Hungary mark the last races before the summer break and both should give us a chance to get back to the performance levels we have targeted for this stage of the season," he said. "We start at Hockenheim where we last raced in 2010. The team has obviously progressed significantly since then and now we can realistically look at fighting with a few of the cars ahead. In Silverstone we did not maximise the new aero package we brought but the specific demands of Hockenheim definitely give us a chance to do so. Obviously we will have also had more time to analyse the data we generated over the weekend so I am reasonably confident we will be able to get back to where we want to be."

"Technically, Hockenheim is all about mediums. Brake wear and brake cooling are medium, downforce levels are between medium and high and this is a track where the stresses on the engine and the gearbox are in the mid-range. This means the drivers can be aggressive throughout the whole lap and that puts the onus on the engineers to find setups that allow them to push as much as possible, in the high speed sections and into the twisty bits in the stadium. If we can do that successfully, and fine tune the revised exhausts and bodywork, I think we can have a good weekend."

Team principal Tony Fernandes also believes that with a little bit of luck the team can start to realise its potential ahead of the summer break.

"This is an extraordinary season and it is possible that in previous years the gains we have made would have been more obvious. We are still a small team, but we have already made very good progress this year and with a little luck and even more hard work I know we will make that step into the midfield and join the battles that are going on ahead of us. We have the people to help us do that, and after Hungary we will be moving the F1 team to our new home in Leafield and that will mark the next chapter in our extraordinary story.

"However, now we are focusing on the races that take us past the mid-point of the season and I am excited about seeing what we can achieve at both grands prix. Hopefully Heikki's car won't suffer the same contact that cost him so much downforce in the British Grand Prix, and I know that Renault Sport F1 are working as hard as they can to ensure we do not suffer a repeat of the engine failure that ended Vitaly's race before it started in Silverstone. With more time on track to push the upgrade package as far as we can, and a little luck, both races could send us into the summer break on a very positive note."