FEBRUARY 4, 2014
Caterham played safe for Jerez amid Renault crisis
After Red Bull's catastrophic opening test at Jerez last week, even F1 backmarkers Marussia and Caterham are currently ahead of the formerly-dominant world champions' game.
Indeed, despite sitting out half of the four-day session in southern Spain, Ferrari-powered Marussia ultimately got its new MR03 up and running with more laps in the bag than the troubled title-defending RB10.
And Caterham, despite running the very same Renault engine as Red Bull, coped better with the French supplier's high-profile problems.
According to Italy's Omnicorse, having likened the unseemly green CT05 to an 'armoured car' at Jerez, running with initially ultra-conservative packaging was a deliberate strategy by technical chief Mark Smith.
In stark contrast, Adrian Newey's extreme packaging for the RB10 reportedly proved too much for the Renault internals at Jerez, while Caterham managed more than triple Red Bull's mileage with its 'test car'.
"We were aware of the risks," said Smith, "but it was important for us to come back with a sufficient amount of data in order to do an accurate analysis."
Also struggling at Jerez was Red Bull's sister team Toro Rosso, who having switched from Ferrari power over the winter was able to collect just 239 kilometres of running with the troubled Renault V6 last week.
"I arrived in Jerez expecting that we might have some difficulties," team driver Jean-Eric Vergne told France's RMC.
"But this (the 2014 rules) is a revolution," he insisted, "and I think modern F1 has not experienced something like it before.
"I trust Renault," Vergne added. "They won all of the world championships in the past years and I confident they will be working hard so that we will have a very good engine."