On the 24th of April 2015 I went to Leafield, having paid for Caterham CT05#1 and thinking I would be turned away as "surely the F1 teams would never let a car less than nine months old be sold off".
Once on site I was guided to several lots that I had purchased at the same time. Many were a complete waste of money as I was guessing they may have been of use such as a Caterham CT03 side pod, CT01 engine covers, a spare roll hoop and cover, a Lotus 2011 front wing, two boxes of Caterham caps (I still have them) plus a few parts that I did use on the build such as Caterham CT01 uprights and wheel nuts.
On seeing the car I managed to speak to Stuart who I believe was the Chief Mechanic and now works for Haas F1. He advised that he thought my car was the chassis Kobayashi crashed in Barcelona. I had luckily been at that test and taken several images of Kobayashi on the day so was over the moon to own a car that I had actually seen driven. I loaded the van up and off I went to start doing some research. In hindsight Stuart was used to dealing with state of the art F1 cars so probably not too bothered about this tub as he would have seen it as scrap. I was even told at a later date by an ex-employee that my tub was destined for the skip twice.
It didn't take long though to realise that the chassis I had purchased wasn't what I thought it was. The car Kobayashi crashed in May 2014 had a large white sticker along the monocoque with the word Caterham on. This was used up until the German Grand Prix before the team switched back to simple white lettering straight onto the tub.
Kamui Kobayashi driving in early 2014 and Marcus Ericsson in the 2014 Hungarian GP weekend. Note the markings from Hungary match my tub
The tub I had been told was chassis #3 couldn't be chassis#3. The plate for that chassis was on lot 210 which sold a month earlier and when my friend Bjorn took pictures of lot 210 and the chassis plate was certainly in place. There was no way Caterham would have scrapped chassis #3 so early in the season as it had slight damage but nothing serious.The marking couldn't be right for chassis#3 as well.
The chassis I had bought was marked as well with large wheel marks across the tub where the Caterham lettering was as this was where a wheel had hit it. All roads led to the tub being chassis#1. This linked to timing, as chassis#1 was crashed when Caterham had no money to repair it. Chassis #3 was repaired and based on timing must have been used as the "spare" chassis on the truck as Belgium was only a a few weeks after Marcus had crashed chassis#1 in Hungary. At that point I had every piece of evidence to prove this was chassis #1. Awesome news for me!
You can see above the mark where the front wheel hit the monocoque plus the graphics match my tub. Repair had been started by the team but ceased very quickly which I am guessing was due to cash issues?
Why was this awesome news for me? My dream was to own an F1 car that I had actually seen driven, well now I knew that I had seen Chassis#1 in:
- December 2013 - Had won an E-bay auction to tour the Caterham F1 Leafield Factory. Whilst there I was shown the new cars. Chassis #1 was built and chassis#2 was in the final stages of build. I was not allowed to take pictures but had seen chassis #1 before most of the world
- Jerez January 28th,29th and 30th 2014 - Car launch with Marcus Ericsson. Driven for two days and then handed to Robin Frijns. I went home on the last day so didn't see Kamui Kobayashi driving the car. I was also lucky enough to have had access to the paddock and took a few pictures by the pit lane.
- Barcelona May 13th 2014 - I went over for the two day test. Although I watched Kamui Kobayashi in car (chassis #3) on the 13th the next day I paid for paddock access and luckily spotted Chassis#1 being packed away back into the truck so again I took loads of pictures
- Silverstone 4th July 2014 - Watched FP1 &2 in which Marcus Ericsson drove CT05#1
- Silverstone 8th of July 2014 - Watched Will Stevens test the car during the Silverstone in season F1 test, I also took loads of pictures
- Silverstone 9th of July 2014 - Watched Julian Leal test the car during the Silverstone in season F1 test
In short I had actually seen Caterham CT05#1 in action or during its race life over seven separate days. Below is the chassis log for Caterham CT05#1. This has been pulled together by finding old press write ups on the net, Autocourse and generally hours spent researching: