Kovalainen believes Caterham need to change direction

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Heikki Kovalainen has said that Caterham should consider changing the design direction they are taking with the CT03 car after competing in FP1 for the team today in Bahrain.

Kovalainen has re-joined his old team to do some testing work, being in the perfect position to compare the CT03 car to its 2012 predecessor after racing for Caterham from 2010 until last season.

“I think it’s quite different to last year’s car,” Kovalainen said in an interview.

“Fundamentally it’s the same, obviously tires and set-up has changed. It’s quite a different feeling.”

The Finnish driver made clear that he thought the team needed to make several changes to the 2013 car, which is largely based upon last year’s edition due to the lack of changes to the regulations.

“If I was racing, I would start looking to make changes straight away to get it more how I think it should be.

“It’s more unbalanced than I experienced last year. It’s more difficult to nail a good lap. I think in qualifying, when the tires are fresh, the car is a bit more average. But to a certain extent it’s not a surprise because of the way the car has been modified.”

Kovalainen also suggested that the new tires had made the car more difficult to drive, warranting the change in design and development.

“In terms of the differences, there’s a direction. But with the tires that we have now, I’m not convinced it’s the right way to go.

“Maybe we should reconsider the set-up direction.”

Although Kovalainen may not currently have the financial backing to race full-time with Caterham, but he is in a perfect position to help the team develop their car with six seasons of grand prix experience under his belt. The one-time race winner will also be partaking in free practice at the Spanish Grand Prix next month for Caterham.

MORE: Watch FP2, qualifying and the Bahrain Grand Prix online or on your phone or tablet

Red Bull rising into the form expected when the season began

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Young “Mad Max” Verstappen had plenty to be angry about for the first half of the Formula One season. After his breakout season in 2016, this year had been little more than a rash of retirements, crashes and clashes with other drivers.

But a late burst over the last two races delivered his second career victory and a second-place. Those results have Red Bull rising and looking more like the fast and muscular team it was expected to be.

Verstappen and teammate Daniel Ricciardo now look primed to keep pushing for the front over the final four races of 2017, starting this week at the U.S. Grand Prix. Do that and the prospects for a 2018 title fight grow brighter.

“We’re definitely going the way we need to be going,” Ricciardo said. “If we start on the front foot, I genuinely believe we can fight for the title if we start closer. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Verstappen’s win in Malaysia demonstrated a perfect marriage of the young Dutchman’s driving skill and his improving car when he beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with a head-to-head pass early. He was on the podium again a week later in Japan. The champagne spray at both races was a tasty but dry reminder that Red Bull wanted – and expected – so much more this season.

While Ricciardo has been a workhorse with nine podiums and one victory, Verstappen’s season was crippled by reliability issues with his car or crashes.

“There were so many races this year when he was in a fantastic position to achieve big results,” team principal Christian Horner said this week. “Credit to him that at such a young age he hasn’t let frustration boil over … when it comes right for him, it’s going to come right in a big way. And that’s exactly what happened in Malaysia. He drove a great race there, with no issues.”

Some of the “issues” created internal tension.

The first lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix was a disaster for Red Bull. Verstappen tried to overtake Ricciardo and hit him, knocking Ricciardo out of the race while Verstappen finished fifth. Ricciardo lashed out at Verstappen as “immature” and criticized the “amateur” maneuver.

Verstappen said he can’t think about what happened early in the season.

“That frustration I put behind me,” Verstappen said. “It happened. You can’t change it anymore. You’re just happy that it’s going well again and we had some good results.”

Ricciardo has carried Red Bull to the podium time and again but his broad smile hasn’t beamed from the top spot since Azerbaijan in June. Despite his run of strong finishes, he’s stuck at fourth in the driver’s standings and needs a boost to overtake Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas for third.

The Circuit of the Americas has been good for both Red Bull drivers in the past. Ricciardo finished third here in 2014 and 2016. Verstappen had an attention-getting drive in 2015 when he finished fourth in his Toro Rosso after sloshing his way through the field on a wet track.

Verstappen had a wild race in 2016 when he challenged for the lead early, came in for a pit stop when the crew wasn’t ready and yelled to his garage: “I’m not here to finish fourth!” He didn’t finish at all when his car was knocked out with a gearbox problem on lap 32.

Verstappen was 17 when he joined the F1 grid as the youngest driver in series history and he still jokes about his age. Austin is known for its live music and nightlife, but he’s limited as to how much he can party away from the track.

“I’m only 20. I can’t drink,” Verstappen said. “If I’m on the podium (Sunday) I won’t care.”