May 31st, 2012 (F1plus / Chris Cameron-Dow).- Since Formula One opened its doors to three new teams in advance of the 2010 season, Caterham has been the best funded, most organised and most competitive of those new teams. Now in their third year of Formula One, Caterham have yet to properly compete with the established teams, but they are edging closer.
Nothing much was expected of the team known as Lotus Racing in 2010. It was impressive enough that they made it to pre-season testing and finished ahead of the other new teams – Virgin and HRT. 10th in the Constructors' Championship was the aim, and it was achieved.
2011 was supposed to be the year of points. Just one or two would have been enough to satisfy that goal. But it was not to be. By the end of the season, the outfit then called Team Lotus was fighting with the back of the midfield at some races, but the pace required for points was simply not there.
2012 brings with it a third name, Caterham, but the same aim as 2011. Points must be scored. The first five rounds of the season did not look promising in that department. While Caterham were generally quicker than the other new teams - Marussia (formerly Virgin) and HRT - they were certainly not part of the midfield, as they had hoped to be. Heading to Monaco, Caterham were not even leading the new teams in the Constructors’ Championship.
Monaco brought the sort of form that has been expected from Caterham. Heikki Kovalainen ran as high as 12th, battled successfully with Jenson Button's McLaren and unsuccessfully with Sergio Perez in the Sauber, pitted for a new nose after contact with Perez, and still managed to finish 13th.
While it was a messy race for Kovalainen, and Petrov didn't manage to finish, Caterham had made a statement. They are in Formula One to race, not just to make up the numbers.
13th at Monaco puts Caterham 10th in the Constructors' Championship, ahead of the other new teams. The challenge for the team is to keep moving forward. Formula One is about incremental improvement. If their upward trend continues, Caterham can expect to be fighting for points this season.