Kovalainen: New Caterham is more difficult to drive

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Heikki Kovalainen believes that the Caterham CT-03 is a more difficult car to drive compared its 2012 predecessor, citing this as the reason behind the team’s poor start to the season.

The Finnish driver drove for Caterham between 2010 and 2012, but he was dropped at the end of last season in favor of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. However, Kovalainen ran for the team during FP1 in Bahrain to gauge how the new car differed from last season’s, and he believes that many of the problems are rooted in the new Pirelli tires.

Talking to Sky Sports, Kovalainen said “I could feel that the car is more difficult to drive than it was at the end of last year.

“Of course things have changed, tires have changed, the setup has changed as a result and mainly because of these two things the car has become a bit more difficult to drive.”

Kovalainen was also confident that the upgrades the team is bringing to the Spanish Grand Prix would see them beat closest rivals Marussia, who currently occupy P10 in the constructors’ championship.

“On the other hand I could feel there was more we could use in this car and I felt that after driving the car we should be able to beat Marussia and now with the updates coming we should be in a position to beat them.”

This judgement will provide some comfort for Pic and van der Garde, who have both struggled to make much of an impact so far this season. Last time out in Bahrain, Pic impressed to finish ahead of Jules Bianchi and the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez, and he will be keen on building upon this good form with the new upgrades.

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.