Armed with Renault engines and KERS and a Red Bull gearbox Caterham have once again failed to make the jump to competitiveness. The likeable team are the most ambitious of the “newcomers” to the grid but the difficulty that Caterham are having with just gaining respectability shows just how competitive Formula 1 is at present.
Throughout their time in the sport Caterham have done a tremendous job of interacting with fans through the likes of Twitter and the likeable team have built a considerable fan base but it is imperative that the squad starts to close the gap to the likes of Toro Rosso and start challenging for points occasionally.
With Heikki Kovalainen racing at an exceptionally high level the former Hungarian Grand Prix winner has been one of the most consistent performers in Formula 1 over the last couple of years and is being linked with seats at more competitive teams. Speaking to me earlier in the year, in Monaco, however it was clear that Heikki is looking to get results with Caterham and believes in how the team is growing.
His patience however in not eternal and Caterham will need to show some positive signs if they are keep hold of their prized driver. The early season hiring of John Iley hints to improvements in the future and a will increased performance with next year’s car but this season has clearly been one of disappointment for Caterham.
Vitaly Petrov has been somewhat disappointing for most of the year and been outperformed by Kovalainen for most of the season. The Russian brings a considerable budget to the table and he has done enough in the past to show that he is a solid driver and if he can find a little more performance he is probably the perfect driver to partner with Heikki at this time.
At the end of last year it seemed that Caterham was making inroads on the competitive midfield pack in Formula 1 but ultimately they have failed to maintain that momentum and with the resources and technical partnerships at their disposal their inability to be more competitive has to mark the team as one of the bigger disappointments of the year so far.
Even so they can salvage their season if they develop the car for another few races and start closing the gap to their rivals. In two and a half years they have clearly separated themselves from Marussia and HRT but that is not sufficient for their ambitions. Making the next step is crucial and Formula 1 is eagerly awaiting seeing Caterham make that step.