Caterham joined arch-rival Marussia in launching its 2013 Formula 1 car in the Jerez pitlane in the hour before winter testing began on Tuesday morning.
The Renault-powered CT03 is an evolution of last year’s car.
In its early years, Caterham began most seasons promising steady progress towards the midfield and eventual points.
But 2013 looks more like a campaign of consolidation for the Leafield-based team.
Last season it only just fended Marussia off for the lucrative 10th position in the constructors’ championship standings.
And having begun F1 life with a pair of grand prix winners in its cockpits in the shape of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, financial realities have now forced Caterham towards less experienced drivers with financial backing.
Kovalainen followed Trulli out of the door at the end of 2012, and Caterham lines up for ’13 with Marussia convert Charles Pic and promoted test driver Giedo van der Garde.
Caterham team boss, Frenchman Cyril Abiteboul, reported today that the Brazilian driver Bruno Senna may be the companion of the newcomer Charles Pic, who is already confirmed as a team driver for the 2013 season.
“We are seeking the right pilot who can grow the Pic, who is 21 years old and need to gain experience. We have already shown interest in our three candidates, one of them is the Senna” explained Abiteboul.
Senna was disconnected from Williams after the end of the season and seeks an opportunity to continue in Formula 1, ego addition to Caterham there is an empty cockpit at Force India.
Caterham have confirmed that they have signed Charles Pic on a multi year contract for the 2013 season onwards.
“It is clear that he is a special talent,” said Caterham’s new team boss Cyril Abiteboul.
At present, it is unclear as to who will be partnering Charles Pic at Caterham next season. Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov currently drive for the team however it is rumoured that Dutchman Giedo van der Garde will be given the drive.
Charles Pic’s replacement at Marussia has yet to be confirmed however it is more likely to be British driver Max Chilton.
Sebastian Vettel has led a Red Bull one-two in final practice ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
As the German headed Mark Webber, Felipe Massa managed third for Ferrari but both McLaren drivers lost their quickest laps because of traffic. Much work is being carried out on Nico Hülkenberg’s car following a crash. Once again, the weather was ideal as the first Saturday track action began at 11 o’clock. Lotus again elected to put its ‘Double DRS’ aside for the weekend, which could be a huge championship blow for Kimi Räikkönen, as Marussia ran a new steering rack for Charles Pic’s.
Michael Schumacher and Paul di Resta targeted clean sessions following their Spoon Curve accidents of yesterday. Leading the session halfway through, Vettel was also atop the timesheets when the chequered flag flew courtesy of his best effort of 1:32.136s. This edged out Webber by two tenths of a second, but the pace of both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton remains to be seen as the McLaren duo were held up by Michael Schumacher and Pic, respectively; both cases could be perceived as dangerous, as the seven-time World Champion was coasting in the middle of 130R while the Frenchman looked almost stationary as Hamilton approached the Casio Triangle chicane at full speed.
At Lotus, Räikkönen’s title aspirations appear to be heading out of the window quickly. Not happy with his car since practice began yesterday, the Finn this time suffered a suspected problem with a rear anti-roll bar and spent much of his time in the garage. He could manage no more than 12th place at the end of the session, one position behind championship leader Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, as the quickest Lotus of Romain Grosjean trailed the Sauber cars in fifth to seventh slots.
No sooner had Force India repaired di Resta’s car after his shunt of yesterday, than Hülkenberg had lost his rear end and skidded into the barriers at the second Degner. This leaves the Silverstone team with less than two hours to repair the whole of his left-front suspension assembly as well as damage to the left-rear quarter – another negative situation in the team’s battle for sixth place in the championship.
Williams also struggled, as Pastor Maldonado suffered issues with the back of his car. A session of mechanical difficulties, off-track excursions and many problems with traffic has ended with Red Bull on top, but McLaren are still being viewed as serious contenders. The Woking squad now aims for its fifth consecutive pole position.
Charles Pic is edging closer to a move from Marussia to Caterham in 2013.
French journalist Jean Louis Moncet announced on TF1 that his compatriot will be moving teams ahead of next season.
It is believed that the driver to make way will be Vitaly Petrov, whose manager has frequently lamented a lack of Russian interest in her driver.
Pic has come under fire from team-mate Timo Glock, who accused the Frenchman of blocking him in qualifying on several occasions. The pair almost came to blows on track during the Belgian Grand Prix, during which Pic forced Glock onto the grass on the Kemmel Straight.
Max Chilton has moved up to the role of Marussia reserve driver and it is thought that he is the prime candidate to replace Pic, should he make his expected move to Caterham.