Points for Caterham Racing in Opening round

Giedo van der Garde brought home his Caterham Racing GP2 car to ninth place and two points in the opening round of the 2012 GP2 Series in Sepang, Malaysia. The Dutchman just missed out on the grid switch for the second race.

For van der Garde, the result of ninth was all the more impressive having dropped down the field to sixteenth position on the opening lap, but he worked his way up the order to finish ninth, but with a limited amount of life left in his tyres.

Speaking after the race, van der Garde said: “I had an issue at the start of the race and didn’t get off the grid as quickly as I had hoped. By the end of lap one I was down about eight positions but after that I found my pace and was able to challenge and put some good passing moves on the cars ahead. We were really fast early on, and again after the pit stop, but towards the end of the race the rear tyre grip went off and we were struggling a bit. We can learn from that and know what we have to do tomorrow so the aim is to keep pushing and build on our first points of 2012.”

Caterham Racing team-mate Rodolfo Gonzalez showed promise during the early stages of the race before seeing his race end prematurely on lap thirteen, after contact with another driver damaged his car.

Gonzalez said about his race: “I made a really good start and by turn four I had made up ten places and was running midfield, right in there amongst Ericsson and Giedo. Unfortunately I made contact with Ericsson which caused some problems and I dropped back. I managed to pick up the pace again but it wasn’t long before I was forced to end my race early. The positives are that I raced well, the car felt more consistent than in testing and I was keeping up with strong competitors and overtaking cars, which is all very encouraging.

“One of the key aspects of motor racing is precision, especially during qualifying on the 2012 Pirelli tyres. I want to work on ensuring I always qualify well and if I can continue to get good starts I am confident I can fight to finish in the points.”

Pleasing qualifying for Caterham Racing

Giedo van der Garde

Caterham Racing enjoyed a pleasing qualifying session ahead of the opening round of the 2012 GP2 Series at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, as Giedo van der Garde finished within two tenths of the Pole Position time in eighth.

For Caterham Racing team Manager, Phill Spencer, he is pleased with how the session went: “From the team’s perspective everything very went well today. We looked sharp on track and everyone worked hard to help us enjoy a decent start to our season. The race tomorrow looks like it is going to be very exciting – the top ten cars are covered by less than a second and attention to detail will be key to making sure we have a strong race.

“We have one car in the top ten and the other towards the back of the grid. Giedo showed how valuable his experience and outright pace will be this year in helping us achieve our targets. Rodolfo had a couple of issues on his quickest laps, but we have a good race strategy for both cars, so I am looking forward to getting out there and taking some points. A podium finish is definitely not out of the question.”

Van der Garde explains his qualifying session: “We stuck to our strategy today and went out and did two runs, using both tyre compounds. My first run didn’t go as well as we had hoped – we couldn’t find the performance on the hard compound so we came in, changed to the medium tyres and I did my fastest lap. To be honest it was not ideal. I made a small mistake which probably cost us two tenths, but overall it was good enough to finish in the top eight.

“Now we have some work ahead of us to make sure we have the right setup for tomorrow’s race. I am confident the team will give me a good race car and from eighth on the grid the aim is to work our way up and hopefully finish on the podium.”

Team-mate Rodolfo Gonzalez finished the session outside the top twenty after a qualifying session which saw both of his flying laps hampered by traffic. He wound up twenty-third fastest, having set a 1m46.962.

He feels that he can push for the top ten tomorrow with a good tyre strategy: “The car was very competitive today but I had traffic on each of my fastest laps which is a real shame. Despite that I feel confident with the car and I know we have a good strategy to help us have a good race tomorrow and if I can manage my tyres well we can certainly try for a points finish.”

Humphrey Corbett, Caterham Racing Chief Engineer isn’t concerned with the result in qualifying due to the closeness of the times: “The times today were incredibly close, so although we were hoping to be further up the field, with Giedo just over a tenth off the quickest time in P8 I am not overly concerned about where we ended up. He did not get a perfect lap but the pace was there so come tomorrow I am confident he can work his way through to the front of the field and have a strong race. During the recent tests we saw we have good pace over the long runs and I am happy with the race strategy we have been working on. We are still learning about the new tyres – there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two compounds here, but both Giedo and Rodolfo seem happy with their cars and we know what to do to give us the sort of race we want to see tomorrow.

“Another very pleasing observation from today is to see just how well the whole team is working. The engineers are doing a very good job and the mechanics are working hard in the testing conditions. Both cars ran faultlessly today so I am very happy with our overall performance and I am looking forward to carrying that through to the race tomorrow and the rest of the weekend.”

Razia Qualifies Inside GP2 Top 4.

Caterham Team AirAsia had a mixed day ahead of the Non-Championship GP2 Final at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi as regular driver Luiz Razia finished inside the top four while American racer Alexander Rossi finished fifteenth fastest ahead of tomorrow’s feature race.

Razia, who completed twenty three laps in qualifying set his best time on his first set of tyres to finish just three tenths of a second off Pole Position, and a position on the second row of the grid.

Speaking about qualifying, Razia said: “The car felt very good in the first stint and I was able to push straight out of the box but if I am honest I am a little disappointed as I felt I could have got another couple of tenths out of it and had pole position. In the second half the session was disrupted with a red flag and with just one lap left after the track went green the tyres were just not ready. The track surface differed a lot this afternoon – The F1 rubber helped in the first outing but then I think only one or two people improved on their second set of tyres. With regards to the tyre choice for this weekend I think it is good; I didn’t feel much degradation so although I would like to be on the front row I am happy. It’s a good qualifying result, we just need to push, have a good strategy and fight for the race win. Let’s do it!”

GP2 rookie Rossi saw his qualifying session hampered with a technical issue from Free Practice, which meant that he lost out on valuable track time. Qualifying then saw him be in the wrong place at the wrong time as the red flags came out while he was on his fastest lap of the session, and once the track went live once again he was unable to better his best time and lines up down in fifteenth position.

The American racer said after qualifying: “My practice session was quite disjointed so although my first run in qualifying was clear my lack of pace was down to the fact I still had no real reference points and I was still trying to find my way. On the second set of tyres I set my fastest first two sectors but there was a red flag and after that only had time for one lap to put everything together. I am frustrated but we’ll see what tomorrow brings.  The Pirelli rear tyres seem to go away quite quickly but it is the same for everyone so it will all be about protecting the tyres and whoever can do that the best will get the best results.”

“We qualified P4 and P15 so I have mixed feelings about the session,” explains Team Manager Phill Spencer. “We had a slight problem with the throttle on Alexander’s cars this morning which we fixed in time for qualifying but unfortunately he lost some track time. Both cars were on their fastest laps when the red flag came out but it seemed Luiz was making the most of every opportunity and was really happy with the car.

“All in all I am pleased for Luiz and a little disappointed for Alexander as we all know he is capable of a much better qualifying result. We will fight from where we start tomorrow – a podium is definitely in our reach and as long as we can make some progress I will be happy.”

For Humphrey Corbett, Caterham Team AirAsia Chief Engineer, the session didn’t go according to plan as he explains: “Qualifying didn’t go quite according to script; I was expecting both cars to be up there but at least Luiz Razia proved the car is capable of qualifying at the front.

“Alexander unfortunately had a lot of traffic and was blocked on a very quick lap after the red flag, he was up on both his sectors so it was a shame he wasn’t able to have a clear lap – he was just very unlucky. Alexander didn’t seem to have the grip on his first set of tyres so we will have to look at that.

“As for tomorrow anything is possible, Alexander is disappointed but he is capable of passing other cars so at the very least if we can get him up to P8 to start on pole for Sunday’s race that would be perfect – that and a podium finish for Luiz. It is all very achievable.”

Rossi to Race for Caterham Team AirAsia in Abu Dhabi Finale.

Caterham Team AirAsia has announced that American racer Alexander Rossi will race for the team during the Abu Dhabi GP2 Finale, one of the support races for the penultimate round of the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Rossi will also take part in the Formula One young drivers test for Team Lotus following on from the Grand Prix, which takes place over the 12/13 November. The three day test takes place over the 15/17 November and Rossi, who showed impressive speed during the recent GP2 test at Barcelona, will get a whole day in the car.

The American racer, who spent the 2011 campaign racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, is looking forward to competing at Abu Dhabi, a circuit which impresses him: “The Yas Marina circuit is really pretty impressive. The track itself has some quite slow corners and not a great deal of overtaking opportunities, but it seems to combine a road course with a circuit course. In the first two sectors you can be quite brave with what you’re doing but in the marina section there’s very little run-off area as the walls are really close, so you have to restrain yourself somewhat. Every lap requires two different driving styles and that in itself makes it fun and very interesting to race for both the drivers and the engineers. ”

Speaking about his opportunity to test the Team Lotus Formula One car, he explains what his intentions are, as well as what he is aiming for in the GP2 races: “I am very excited to finally announce I will be competing in Abu Dhabi with Caterham Team AirAsia and will have the chance to put more F1 miles on my CV with Team Lotus. After the positive Gp2 tests in Jerez and Barcelona I feel we have a good chance of a strong result in the GP2 races and I will definitely be going into the weekend fully focused and motivated for a race win – looking at the team’s past results I see no reason why we can’t achieve that. For the F1 test I will be looking to learn as much as possible, do the best job I can and soak up every minute, in and out of the car.”

Riad Asmat, Caterham Team AirAsia and Team Lotus Team Principal said about the Rossi announcement:  “We are very excited to have Alexander Rossi back onboard for the Abu Dhabi GP2 race and the subsequent F1 test. He worked very well with the GP2 team during the tests in Spain and it will be great to continue that working relationship in addition to giving him more exposure to the F1 environment with Team Lotus. He has shown maturity and confidence on track so the decision to put him in the car for the GP2 Finale was a simple one to make and we want to give him the chance to experience the pressure of an F1 environment so the young driver test is the natural place to give him that chance. We are all looking forward to both events and I am sure he will perform to the best of his ability whenever he is on track.”

Phill Spencer, Caterham Team AirAsia Team Manager is hoping that Rossi can give the team a positive end to their maiden season in GP2, which saw them win in Monaco with Davide Valsecchi:  “I am very happy Alexander will be joining our GP2 team again in Abu Dhabi. He has shown great potential in the car and built up a good rapport with the team and especially his engineer during the post season tests. We have come a long way since the beginning of this year, it has been a roller coaster season with some highs and lows but I feel confident that with Alexander we can finish 2011 on a positive note.”

Caterham Team AirAsia to test four drivers at Jerez GP2 Test.

Caterham Team AirAsia have today confirmed the identity of the four drivers they will test at the forthcoming two day GP2 test at Jerez, which gets underway tomorrow, 28 September.

The first day will see GP3 graduate Antonio Felix da Costa and former Formula 1 rookie Yelmer Buurman in the two cars, Buurman in the #26 car while Felix da Costa will use the car which Davide Valsecchi took to Monaco glory.

Felix da Costa is looking forward to testing the latest generation GP2 car with the team: “I am very excited to be testing with Caterham Team AirAsia. They achieved some really solid results in their debut season and have a strong connection with Formula One through Team Lotus. It will be the first time I drive the new generation GP2 car but I am confident and will work hard to make the most of this great opportunity.”

Buurman is looking forward to trying out a GP2 car as he still has ambitions of reaching Formula 1: “I am very eager to drive in the GP2 Series car again and I am grateful to Caterham Team AirAsia for providing me with this chance.  My objective is to perform in a consistent and productive manner and show I am quick enough to achieve the maximum results for me and the team.  The GP2 Series remains the best route to Formula One and it would be an excellent opportunity for me to continue to race in the series by achieve the goals I have set myself.”

Day two will see American racer Alexander Rossi and Team Lotus test driver Ricardo Teixeira take over the driving duties.

Teixeira is looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a GP2 car once again and with Caterham Team AirAsia, as he has been working with Team Lotus all season: “It will be great to get back into a GP2 car, particularly with my friends in Caterham Team AirAsia. We have been working together with Team Lotus since the beginning of the year, so it already feels like a big family! I will go out there and give 100% so we can learn as much as possible from the test, as well as enjoying it. I am really looking forward to it and hopefully I can make the most of this fantastic opportunity and continue the association with the team. ”

Rossi is keen to repay the faith put in him by everyone connected with the team during his day in the car: “I would like to thank Tony, Kamarudin, SM Nasarudin and Riad Asmat for giving me this opportunity with Caterham Team AirAsia. I am very excited about working with a team who I have seen progress throughout the 2011 GP2 season from literally nothing to a race winning squad who mirror the professionalism, passion and commitment their colleagues in Team Lotus bring to work every day, and I will do my best to absorb as much as I can and repay the faith the Team Lotus shareholders have show in me by doing the best job I possible can over the four days on track.”

“Caterham Team AirAsia has come a very long way in its very short life but today’s announcement is exactly what we are here to do,” added Team Principal Riad Asmat. “We want to reward young talent with the chance to develop their skills and the drivers we have taking part in this test are all here on merit. We will make them work – they will be put under the same pressure our race drivers are, and that is the best way for them to learn, so we give them the chance to shine, and I am sure they will repay our faith in them by performing to the best of their abilities.”

Team Manager Phill Spencer added:  “We are really looking forward to giving all four drivers a decent run in the cars. We have a very busy programme lined up for them at the test in Jerez and we will be pushing them hard to see how they respond, in and out of the cars. All four of the drivers testing with us this week have shown great potential and it will be good to see not only how they perform, but also how they can help us set ourselves up for the Abu Dhabi race, and for next year.”

Rossi set for GP2 Test Outings.

Team Lotus has today confirmed that American youngster Alexander Rossi will test for Caterham Team AirAsia, Team Lotus GP2 Counterparts.

Rossi has been one of the standout drivers in the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 and he is the lead driver for the AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Programme. He will drive for one of the two days in Jerez before spending two days in the car at Barcelona.

Riad Asmat explains why Rossi has the chance to test for Caterham Team AirAsia: “One of the key objectives for Tony, Din and Nasa when they set up Caterham Team AirAsia was to provide young talent from across the motorsport spectrum the chance to develop and gain experience on their way to competing at the highest levels of global motorsport. Whether it is aviation, music, the automotive industry or Formula One, our shareholders have always passionately believed in giving young people the chance to explore their potential and Alexander is a very good example of how this plan is working in motorsport – he has performed brilliantly in the 2011 World Series by Renault so it is only fitting that we help him further his understanding of how it works at the very top, and we can do that now by giving him the chance to step up to the GP2 series with us at the forthcoming tests.”

Rossi is a key driver in the Anglo/Malaysian’s squad of up and coming Motorsport talent and he spent the recent Singapore Grand Prix out with the team, expanding his knowledge of how a Formula One team works.

Currently, Rossi is the only American racer to hold a Super Licence and after returning from Singapore in time for the two day GP2 test, he said: “I would like to thank Tony, Kamarudin, SM Nasarudin and Riad Asmat for giving me this opportunity with Caterham Team AirAsia. I am very excited about working with a team who I have seen progress throughout the 2011 GP2 season from literally nothing to a race winning squad who mirror the professionalism, passion and commitment their colleagues in Team Lotus bring to work every day, and I will do my best to absorb as much as I can and repay the faith the Team Lotus shareholders have shown in me by doing the best job I possibly can over the four days on track.”

Caterham Team AirAsia Aim for Monza Rewards as Maiden GP2 Campaign Comes to an End.

Monza in Italy marks the conclusion of the 2011 GP2 Series campaign and for Caterham Team AirAsia, their maiden season in the category has been one of highs and lows.

They head to Monza hoping for a final high in the season and for a change in luck, as the last few race weekends have brought mostly back luck to the team.

Pirelli have provided the Hard Compound tyre for this weekend, due to the high speeds and heavy braking of the parkland Monza circuit.

Heading to Italy and Monza, Phill Spencer is in optimistic mood ahead of the final two races of the season.

He said: “I am optimistic. We have had a bit of a bad run recently but both drivers have had good results here so there is no reason why the drivers cannot do well here, but we will find out when the cars turn a wheel here in free practice tomorrow. The engineers are experienced and have been here many times in the past so they know what they are doing. I am a little anxious but I am happy to be here. The first time I came to this circuit was in 1979 and not much has changed really, just a little at the first chicane. With the long straights and monster braking, drivers like it. The high speed makes it an exciting track to drive but it is the braking that will make up all the time here.”

The team are currently sitting sixth in the teams’ Championship but having secured a victory in their debut season as well as a Pole Position, it has been a good season all round.

Davide Valsecchi, who brought the team their first victory at Monaco lives close to the Italian circuit said about the upcoming race weekend: “It’s an incredibly good feeling being here this week. Monza is close to home so I have friends and supporters with me which is really nice. It is a lot of fun racing here, there are long straights, strong brake points and lots of chances to overtake, so I hope the team and I can qualify well and have a good weekend from the front. I hope the hard tyres will not be a problem. We had a good, competitive result when we used them in Barcelona, so considering this and the good weather forecast I am feeling positive. The team always do a good job I want to make a faultless race so we can finish the season well.”

Luiz Razia has previous experience of winning at Monza, as he secured the Sprint Race honours in 2009, for rival team Scuderia Coloni.

He said about the Monza race weekend:  “It is a pleasure to be here in Monza! I won the sprint race here in 2009 with Di Grassi and Hulkenburg behind me which was a great feeling. It is good fun to be on the track where the hard tyres, low downforce and high speeds mean you are on the edge all the time. The atmosphere is always great here too. Since Silverstone we’ve had very wet, difficult conditions but hopefully here will be dry so we can work through the weekend and have a good consistent weekend. If the weather is stable of course everyone else is in the same situation, so competition will as always be tough but that’s good. I really like the Ascari chicane and Parabolica, the change of direction through these are very quick. We used the hard compound tyres in Barcelona and we had a good race, our aim here is to work on the qualifying so we can start the weekend in a strong position.”

Humphrey Corbett is hoping for a stress free end to the season after the last few rounds, which have been stressful for all concerned.

He said: “I’m looking forward to this weekend. There’s no chance of rain at the moment and it would be nice to have a stress free weekend unlike we have had in the past few races. We have got two drivers that have done very well here, we have a good set-up and will be using the hard tyres which we like so we are confident of a good result. To have a good chance at doing well here you need good braking, good stability under braking, low downforce and to be reasonably good over kerbs. I am sure both drivers will go for it this weekend. We have nothing to lose but we can climb up the championship so let’s go for it!”

GP2 Monza Weekend Schedule:

Friday, 9 September:

11.55 – 12.25: Free Practice
15.55 – 16.25: Qualifying

Saturday, 10 September:

15.25: Pit Lane Opens
15:30: Pit Lane Closes/Grid
15.40: GP2 Feature Race. (30 Laps/60 Minutes)

Sunday, 11 September:

10.15: Pit Lane Opens
10.20: Pit Lane Closes/Grid
10.30: GP2 Sprint Race (21 Laps/45 Minutes)