Caterham kicks off 2012 Formula One season with CT01 launch

It's that time of year, ladies and gents, when Formula One teams begin unveiling their new cars for the upcoming season. But while top teams like Ferrari and McLaren usually compete for the first slot, this time it's Caterham that has beat them all to the punch by revealing its new CT01.

Caterham, as you may recall, is the new name of what was known until now as Team Lotus, a name which has now been reclaimed from the Malaysian outfit that was using it through a contentious licensing agreement by the British automaker and engineering consultancy (which has now taken over the team formerly known as Renault). Got all that?

Bearing a similar green and yellow livery and much of the same design as last year's Lotus, the CT01 represents some of the changes you can expect to see across the board as the rest of the field fills out. That includes a rather odd-looking stepped nose design and reshaped rear quarters (due largely to the ban on exhaust-blown diffusers).

Underneath the bodywork – shaped in the Williams wind tunnel – sits the same Renault RS27 V8 engine that will be used this season by Red Bull, Lotus and Williams, coupled for the first time (for this team) to a Kinetic Energy Recovery System on the brakes and a Red Bull-sourced seven-speed sequential gearbox.

Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli will return for driving duties once the season kicks off in March. Before then, McLaren is expected to unveil its new MP4-27 on February 1, Scuderia Ferrari and Force India on February 3, Lotus on the fifth, Sauber and Red Bull on the sixth, and Mercedes-Benz on the February 21, with the remaining teams yet to announce the dates for their unveilings. Stay tuned.

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