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GP Week : Issue 154
take up his new role as sporting director. According to Smith, Iley’s appointment was integral to the team’s progress. “One of the things that we’ve instigated and that happened last week is that John Iley joined us from McLaren,” he said. “I’ve worked with John at two teams before, we know each other fairly well. He’s obviously got experience of front- running teams – very recent experience – and it’s those kinds of recruitments that actually allow you to step beyond the gradient that you’re on. He only joined this week and he’s already had a good look around the car. He will be giving his input to the developments that we’re embarking on as of now. “I think it will be fairly slow until the August shutdown, but I genuinely believe that our gradient will take off a little bit, and that we will have a much stronger car, certainly by the last third of the season. We will be in a strong position, and I hope that we will pick up the points.” Recruitment continues to be a vital part of Caterham’s plan to progress – while the existing team works well together, a series of targeted appointments should help the Norfolk outfit to progress into the midfield at last. “We are still a small team in many respects – it’s not just the budget that we’re missing,” Smith admitted. “We’ve got a few more people to recruit to get to where we want to get to, particularly – primarily – in the aero field. That’s in terms of both CFD and in terms of normal aerodynamics. We’re not quite there with those people yet, we’re not quite there with our CFD tools...” Improving CFD is a vital part of Caterham’s on-going development programme, and Smith readily admits that the team have a long way to go before they are able to make the most out of the technology. “We’re embarking on a big development programme that is a significant step for ward in terms of our capabilities in the CFD environment,” the technical director explained. “I believe that we’re gearing ourselves up so that we’re in the mid-field and we’re doing CFD seven days a week, effectively. We’re not doing seven days a week yet, but we will be later this season. “What we need to do is... There’s a gradient of development. We need to increase that, make it steeper, so that when we bring new parts to the car, whether it’s a wing or a bodywork development it actually gives us more performance.” While the budget cap between front runners and back markers can often look like more of a canyon, Smith is happy with the relative degree of flexibility he is given with his development budget. “Obviously all of this takes money,” he said. “We started the season with a preliminary idea of our development budget, and as we go through the season I might have to say to Riad [Asmat] or Tony [Fernandes] ‘we’d like to do this; it’s outside the budget’. We’ve done that, and – to be very honest – I’ve never been told no. We are aiming todowhatwecando,butoneofthe complications at the moment is the fact that we’re a smaller team, so we’re limited in terms of what we can do. “This is the challenge. We all have development upgrades, so each week we add one or two points onto the model performance in the wind tunnel. But the bigger teams have more people, more resources, so they’re adding more than us on a weekly basis. "It is the thing that makes it massively difficult to progress. Obviously we’ve got a limitation in terms of the tools we have, and we are improving those, particularly CFD, and that’ll come good early next year.” Development resources are a perennial problem, but one that will be improved when Caterham make their long-awaited move to Leafield, Oxfordshire, putting them in the heart of motorsport valley and nearer to their borrowed Williams wind tunnel.¬ There are no plans for Caterham to build a tunnel at the former Arrows base. “There is a cost implication [of building a wind tunnel],” Smith said, “but equally we’re aware that, at the moment in some of the discussion forums within F1, the idea of cost saving is being discussed, and it’s important that we set ourselves up going for ward to be optimum in that respect. At the moment, the Williams wind tunnel is a very good tunnel for us, it works well, and when we’re in Leafield it will be quite convenient.” Whatever Caterham might lack in terms of resources, they are not short on confidence. Their plucky underdog attitude and accessibility has endeared them to legions of Formula One fans, all of whom are keen to see the team score that elusive first point. Smith is confident that moment will come. “We genuinely believe that we will come through,” he asserted. “We are where we are at the moment, but I don’t think you find that people [in the team] become too depressed by it. I think there’s a belief that we will make progress. “I do have high hopes. My expectations are the same as anyone’s – to end the season in a stronger position than we started in, and for that to carry through into 2013. "We need to be not in this gap between the other two new teams and the midfield, we need to be in the back end of that midfield from the beginning of next season so that we can start to progress through it.” Caterham team new boy Vitaly Petrov F1 >>> FEATURE 29 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: