After losing tenth position in the Constructors Championship to Marussia at the Singapore Grand Prix, thanks to Timo Glock finishing twelfth, Caterham were extremely lucky to have regained that coveted tenth position, worth a substantial amount in prize money over eleventh. Vitaly Petrov’s overtake on Charles Pic late in the race gave Caterham tenth back however for Petrov to be in this position in the first place was down to luck as well, infact the team have the clumsy, Clouseau-esque antics of Toro Rosso’s Jean Eric Vergne.
On lap twenty-nine, just before the end of the safety car period to clean debris off the track, Glock was running in an excellent twelfth ahead of Vergne until the French-man drove into the back of the Marussia causing damage and a puncture. This, amongst many other incidents in the race, was never picked up by the Brazilian TV director controlling the world feed, however Glock was then forced to do an entire lap of the circuit before pitting which put him out of contention. Had Vergne not run into the back of him Glock may have been able to maintain his position as he showed good pace and could have scored Marussia’s first ever World Championship point, through inheriting tenth if Lewis Hamilton and Paul Di Resta had still dropped out later.
This would have been the icing on the cake for Marussia in a season where the team has overcome turbulent times such as the Maria de Villota incident, the car failing one of its crash tests and being several seconds off the pace of both Caterhams at the start of the season only for the MR01 chassis to claw them in substantially by the end of the season thanks to ongoing development at McLaren’s Woking facilities. For the first time the Banbury-based Marussia have a stable platform going into the 2013 season and have more going for them as they will be running KERS for the first time, the Williams system, something that their green and yellow rivals already have.
For Caterham the 2012 season will be seen as another missed opportunity to close in on the midfield and a lucky escape from being condemned to eleventh in the Constructors Championship. Six months ago at the European Grand Prix both Caterhams were fighting for position with both Toro Rossos, and coming out worse in collisions caused by Daniel Ricciardo and the clumsy Vergne once again, since then however the team slipped backwards with a large aero upgrade brought to the British Grand Prix weekend having failed to work, with the team downplaying the gravity of the failure by blaming the weather and lack of dry running, with Marussia and HRT closing in pace wise the only strength of the CT01 became its KERS device giving the car three or four tenths per lap advantage, which eventually became nullified by the Marussia’s better aero package.
At the start of the season Tony Fernandes stated he would walk away from Formula One if Caterham did not make any progress and the Malaysian business magnate has kept his word by recently stepping down as Team Principal with Cyril Abiteboul, deputy boss of Renault’s F1 division, announced as his successor. Whether the management shake-up translates to an improvement in car and on-track performance remains to be seen as for the second year running Caterham have failed to live up to their own expectations and face ever toughening competition from their Banbury-based rivals.