Caterham T128

The Lotus T128 F1 car shares its name with a Le Mans prototype car (LMP). This was the first true design by Mike Gascoyne for the Lotus F1 team and featured a few tweaks from the original T127 car that raced in 2010. Noticable differences were the air box which had a central column rather than the traditional cave shaped air box as seen on most F1 cars.

There were a total of 4 Chassis' built for the season. 3 of which were raced and Chassis#2 used only in testing.

Above is one of the press images used, showing the car and below at Duxford, Cambridge, during the summer of 2011. At this point the team were losing against the Renault backed team to claim the racing name Lotus so were starting to associate themselves with the Caterham car brand as Tony Fernandez had purchased the British Car Company.

The team moved to a Renault RS27 engine, which the move to Caterham branding did not harm and as you can see the bladed roll bar, first seen in 2010 by Mercedes  made the car look, to the untrained eye, very different from the 2010 T127. The car itself was massively different. 

R&D was being developed, using Cranfield initially.

Below is the water radiator shaker test being carried out.

The T128 was developed with the knowledge of running the team in 2010 so the team had a years data to draw on. The car specification assumed a chassis or monocoque weight of 62kgs with a further 14Kgs added as a full chassis with the zylon panels and knee inserts.

The team had high hopes as their year started and the fitting of the chassis around drivers Kovalainen and Trulli began at their factory.

The team developed their own build manual and expanded on staffing levels to allow a more competitive unit to attack the 2011 F1 season. Below are a few team images taken from the Caterham F1 archives and never seen before.

During the season the team were able to develop the car and utilise a series of tests, many of which have never been seen in public from the 7 post Rig at the Lola base which was located near to the team.

Likewise R&D became more important and as per the below Side Impact Structure tests, things were moving forward for the team

The season started with pre-season testing in Valencia, Jerez and Barcelona with Heikki, Jarno and test driver Guido Van De Garde taking control initially. Critical problems were failures of the front push rod and rear rocker cap bolts. The team noticed that other pit lane occupents were using Aerogel and Pyrogel products, so they needed to understand if using these would give them an improvement in reliability. The tests went well but the season was ahead and starting at the end of March in Melbourne.

The 2011 Season (Chassis number depicted next to driver)

  1. Melbourne - JT (13th #3) HK(Ret #1)
  2. Malaysia - JT (Ret #3) HK (13th #1)
  3. China - JT (19th #3) HK (16 #1)
  4. Turkey - JT(18th #3) HK (19th #4)
  5. Spain - JT (Ret #3) HK (18th #4)
  6. Monaco - JT(14th #3) HK (14th #4)
  7. Canada - JT (16th #1) HK (Ret #4)
  8. Europe - JT (20th #1) HK (19th #4)
  9. Britain - JT (Ret #1) HK (Ret #4)
  10. Germany - KC (20th #1) HK (16th #4) 
  11. Hungary - JT(Ret #1) HK (Ret #4)
  12. Belgium - JT (14th #1) HK ( 15th #4)
  13. Italy - JT (14th #1) HK (13th #4)
  14. Singapore - JT (Ret #1) HK (16th #4)
  15. Japan - JT(19th #3) HK (18th #4)
  16. Korea - JT (17th #3) HK (14th #4)
  17. India - JT (19th #3) HK (14th #1)
  18. Abu Dhabi - JT (18th #1) HK (17th #4)
  19. Brazil - JT (18th #3) HK ( 16th #4)

I believe Jarno Trulli has a T128, Chassis #2 sold at the Administrators auction and one of the other Chassis ended up in the USA, it even appeared on Craigs list but I believe that was a hoax as the real owner is near Alabama.