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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Marussia MR02 and Caterham CT03 Launch, People Struggle To Care

2013 Caterham CT03
2013 Marussia MR02
So, with HRT gone for good and Williams being "that team" to not have a new car ready yet (last year it was Mercedes who had to run an old-spec car at Jerez), here are the last two F1 cars to launch for now, the Caterham and the Marussia. Due to the extreme amount of money needed to do anything at all in Formula 1, these two teams, formerly three, haven't really been able to break into the middle of the pack beyond scoring some 12th-15th places between them at chaotic races. They also struggle to hang onto drivers, with Charles Pic making a sideways jump from Marussia to Caterham after just one season and both Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen now absent from the sport after showing much promise at higher teams in their careers. How sad for them.

Ok, first up, the Caterham:

Long car is long. The wheelbase has to exceed 3000mm by regulation.
The first thing you'll notice about this car (in the top pic at least) is that it still has a stepped nose, something it gained infamy for last year as it was the first stepped-nose car to emerge, leaked by a magazine before knowledge of the new nose rules had even become widespread. Presumably a Vanity Panel costs too much. The second thing you'll notice about it is that it no longer has a yellow stripe. I do not have an explanation for this, beyond the guess that it may coincide with it no longer saying 1Malaysia on it, which in turn coincides with the absence of team founder and QPR owner Tony Fernandes, who also owns the 1Malaysia airline. The third thing you'll notice about it is that it's called the CT03. This is confusing because last year's car was the CT01. Did they just forget or something? Actually, the CT02 is their super-awesome collaboration with Renaultsport to make the Alpine sports car come back to life, which is a perfectly valid reason for screwing up a brand new naming system. Because road car.

The CT03 is going to have new wings and a new diffuser put on it, but not in time for testing or the first race, because they haven't got enough money haven't been finalised yet. In the mean time it has lots of revisions to it that include deeply undercut sidepods like everyone else has, to improve airflow into the diffuser area.

Piloting the Caterham-Renault that isn't a road car will be Charles Pic and reasonably fast Dutch gentleman Giedo van der Garde. He's shown much promise and not quite delivered on it yet, so driving for Caterham gives him a prime opportunity to... keep doing that.

Now the Toyota Marussia MR02:

Good livery is good. Simple but effective. If only they could fill the black area with sponsors...
Because Russian-owned Marussia uses the same wind tunnel as McLaren, they too went with a low nose too last year. How convenient that two teams sharing a facility ended up with the same solution as eachother. The top surface is now a little smoother, but the big news is that they're finally bringing a gun to a gunfight, because the MR02 is this team's first ever car to feature KERS. How modern of them! It also has a Coanda exhaust for the first time, so the fight between these two teams (Marussia and Caterham, that is, not Marussia and McLaren) should be close and more exciting than last year. Not that you'll notice, because the TV cameras tend to focus on the top half of the grid in races and it's down to the commentators to occasionally fill time with news of the battle for last place. But you never know.

Driving the Marussia - which thanks to HRT's departure is now the only Cosworth-powered F1 car left - will be British GP2 person Max Chilton, so expect to see him on the BBC and Sky, and, err, ummmm......

OK, they haven't got another driver yet, because Timo Glock's left to go race DTM after saying that he was tired of always finishing nowhere in races. But they'll get one. Soon. Maybe. Perhaps Force India can tempt them into a merger so they don't have to find a team mate for Paul di Resta.

Orange sidewalls are new for 2013, on the Hard compound tyre. People couldn't see the silver one paint after a few laps.
We'll see how they get on, but for now just enjoy the fact that there are still 22 cars on the grid, and there's no Narain Karthikeyan to get in the way or crash into something, so the races will go more smoothly.

Hi-Vis green is paint to see the airflow, not a way to protect the workforce.
If you care, there are more Caterham pics here and more Marussia pics here.

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