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Will F1 2012 be year of platypus?

2012-01-27 09:19

NEW NAME, NEW RIDE: Caterham's 2012 title challenger hopes to move up the ranks of the F1's tailenders and to score more points this season.

Alan Baldwin

LONDON, England - Malaysian-owned Caterham emerged at the head of the pack on Thursday as the first Formula 1 team to show off its 2012 car... and some rude things are being said.

The green-and-yellow CT01 is unlikely to win a beauty parade with some branding the "platypus-nosed" car downright ugly, but technical head Mike Gascoyne was sure it would not be alone. Team principal Tony Fernandes loves it.


Gascoyne said on the team's Facebook page: "We're the first car out so it is stirring up a lot of debate but the 2012 regulations on noseboxes mean you'll probably see this type of nose on most cars for 2012."

The rules have been changed to limit nosebox height to.

"You always want to get the chassis as high as possible," Gascoyne said after inmages of the car appeared on the cover of F1 Racing Magazine and the team's website, "to allow clean air-flow below the car. What you see on the CT01 is our solution."

Former F1 designer Gary Anderson, now a technical analyst for the BBC, said the nose's ridges and bumps were inevitable: "The nose on the Caterham looks pretty stupid but everyone's going to be heading in that direction with the new rules."

Fernandes, who also owns Premier League soccer club Queen's Park Rangers, said the main thing was for it to be quick.

"As long as it's quicker than 2011's car I don't think the looks matter," he said. "I think it's beautiful. It's different but different doesn't equal ugly - in fact I think its difference is what makes it beautiful - but then I'm probably a bit biased."

Caterham F1

LIKE A PLATYPUS?: Caterham's 2012 challenger shares a nose simillar to the duck-billed platypus.

Renault-powered Caterham was Team Lotus in 2011, and Lotus Racing in its 2010 debut season. Whatever the name, it still hasn't scored a racing point like the other two new teams. The 2012 cars will, however, have a kinetic energy recovery system for the first time and have set a "top 10" finish as a priority.

Finland's Heikki Kovalainen and Italian Jarno Trulli are their named drivers, although there has been lingering speculation about the latter's race seat. The season will start in Australia on March 18.

Gascoyne said the platypus car had passed all mandatory crash tests and would be ready for the first pre-season test in Jerez, Spain, from Februar 7. "The design of the car has been progressing since early 2011. It's the first year of real stability for us on the technical side and by keeping the Renault Sport F1 engine and Red Bull Technology gearbox we know exactly what we're working with - and what we can expect.

"Each year we've not only had a new design team but also a new gearbox/engine combination. "Now we have a very stable design team under our technical director Mark Smith so we can take a much bigger step forward in terms of design detail."

Fernandes declared: "I am confident we will become a danger to many of the mid-field teams and, yes, I want us to achieve a point somewhere in 2012 - maybe two if we are very lucky."


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