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.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”