December 19 2014 Latest news:
Michael Bailey, Formula One correspondent
Thursday, May 22, 2014
It’s hard not to feel sorry for those on the shop floor at Hingham-backed Caterham. The ‘wins’ they’ve had the chance to experience in Formula One since arriving on the grid in 2010 have been in all too short supply.
"This sort of season does not make you want to retire. If you do retire, you want to retire on a high"
No doubt they were hoping to be closer off the back of so many fundamental rule changes over the winter too – something that simply hasn’t come to fruition.
And all that in front of a backdrop of team owner Tony Fernandes declaring the team needs to make inroads into the established order before the end of the current season, or he’s selling up.
It wouldn’t take a Formula One designer to figure out what that sort of stuff does to the airflow around Caterham’s Leafield base and the morale of its staff.
Big changes were announced ahead of the weekend too, with technical director Mark Smith ditched as Caterham attempt to find another formula for success.
• Pole position – Sebastian Vettel: After a horrible weekend, the defending champion turned things around in Spain with a superb drive to fourth. All the German needs to do now is finish ahead of his team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo…
• Stalling – Russia: The country’s first grand prix has been cast in doubt by the recent military and political tensions with Ukraine. However, the race over a new track at Sochi is still expected to take place for now.
After a couple of conversations, Mark struck me as a good guy – although I think he was also hoping for a longer stay in Norfolk, rather than a switch back towards Silverstone not long after his arrival.
It will now be development by committee for the team, as head of performance engineering John Iley, head of design and manufacturing Jody Eggington and head of track operations Gerry Hughes lead – reporting to team principal Cyril Abiteboul.
“After investing last year in our new factory, and over the winter in aerodynamic development capacity, the new structure gives three specialists we are lucky to have, the opportunity to use their experience, passion and dedication to help us progress,” said Abiteboul.
“We are not happy with our current performance levels and John, Jody and Gerry are the right people to help take us forward.”
And that is in everyone’s interest – unless someone lifts the impending black cloud hanging over the team.
• Four in a row and finally, the drivers’ championship lead for Lewis Hamilton.
Barcelona – the latest stage of what is effectively a two-way championship fight Lewis will win.
• Formula One screwed up the job of doing it themselves, so here’s hoping Mercedes help them out.
I’m talking about spreading the word of what is being achieved in the sport – a renewed relevance.
Mercedes confirmed before Barcelona they were renaming their 2014 charger – or quite possibly champion-elect – the F1 W05 Hybrid.
That last word is the addition, and the result is a tangible link to the fact these superb machines are running off a third less fuel.
That’s the message that needed putting out before the opening race of 2014 – and will hopefully stick over the coming weeks.