F1: Hard for Caterham to overtake big boys

F1: Hard for Caterham to overtake big boys

Formula One has long been synonymous with a champagne-popping, party-hopping lifestyle embraced by its drivers and fans. But beyond the glitz and glamour, it is also a gritty, never-ending race for survival.

Just ask Caterham Technology chief Mike Gascoyne, who has been with the team since their inception in 2010 under the Lotus moniker. For the Malaysian-owned outfit, uncorking bottles of bubbly on the podium is still a distant dream. After 31/2 seasons of racing, they are still chasing a first top-10 finish.

"The fact that new teams like us still haven't scored a point shows how bloody difficult it is," Gascoyne noted. The Briton was in town recently to deliver lectures to budding engineers at local tertiary institutions.

In a 45-minute session with The Sunday Times at the British High Commission, the 50-year-old spoke candidly about the challenges that newcomers to the sport face in competing with giants like Ferrari and McLaren.

"When you come into F1, you're playing catch up," he said. "The trouble is, they're not standing still - they're bigger than you and pushing like hell as well. "It's a bit like setting up a football team and going straight into the knockout stages of the World Cup."

Indeed, for a team like Caterham and their 250-strong F1 team, the harsh reality is that they are coming up against rivals with close to 700 employees and far more resources at their disposal.

A 23-year veteran of the motorsports scene, Gascoyne's pre-Caterham curriculum vitae includes spells at McLaren, Sauber, Jordan, Renault, Toyota and Force India. For all the accolades received over the course of his career, few can compare to something his 10-year-old son Freddie said to him not too long ago.

"I was explaining something to my youngest son," the father of three recalled. "And he turned to me and said, 'Dad, you're a real nerd. Mind you, you're the coolest nerd I know!'" A smile spread across his face as he recounted this tale, but when the conversation returned to motor sport, Gascoyne was all business.

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