The Caterham F1 team has revealed it's new CT-03 F1 car, with hopes that it will be able to close the gap to the mid-field teams even further.
Described by the Caterham officials at the launch as an "evolution" of the CT-01, the new car is still expected to build on the progress the team has made over the years.
However, whilst the outfit does intend to edge closer to the mid-field teams this season, their performance improvement target is more "modest".
As far as improvements go, there isn't much that immediately jumps out at you bar the new, lighter green paint that's been applied to this year's car – most is pretty similar to what we saw on the CT-01 as it was at the Brazilian Grand Prix last year.
Which is by all means understandable – not only is this the final year with the current regulations in place, but Caterham is one of the less well-off teams in the sport, so drastic, radical upgrades certainly weren't expected.
There are, though, a few tweaks here and there to the bodywork – whilst the vanity panel hasn't been adopted, new turning vanes have been applied to the front nose, along with subtle revisions to the sidepods and the tapering sections of the 'Coke bottle' area.
First impressions of the CT-03
Before we start running through the new Caterham, let's clear up a query that some of our eagle-eyed readers may have spotted in the main body of text: the CT-03 hasn't been christened the CT-02, as that's the name Caterham has given to the sports car that'll come out of the joint partnership with Renault.
Now we've got that out of the way, what do we make of the car?
Well…it sort of depends on what you're actually comparing it with.
Place the CT-03 up against one of the mid-field cars, and the CT-03 does look outgunned at this early stage. Whilst the overall shape of the Caterham does look more advanced, we're not sure if that's down to their actually being noticeable changes or whether the lighter paint job is exposing details that weren't as easily visibile in last year's much darker green.
Compared with the Marussia, though, and it all does look up the job of covering it's back against Caterham's now arch rival. Though this is perhaps because all the development pieces have been slung onto the CT-03, whilst the Marussia is still in a 'room for improvement' pre-season state.
The only big area of doubt, perhaps, is the choice of drivers – whilst we've no doubt that Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde have earned the right to be in Formula One, they do make up one of the least experienced driver line-ups on the 2013 F1 grid.
So, whilst we don't expect any radical performance increases this year, Caterham's progress is going to be an especially interesting one to chronicle over the course of the season. Whether or not they can keep up with the mid-field teams, we certainly expect Pic and van der Garde to be kept busy on the track.