Abiteboul pleased with Caterham gains

2013 F1 season

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, Young Drivers' Test, Silverstone, 2013Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul says the “aggressive development plan” the team embarked on this season is bearing fruit.

Abiteboul said team’s move to a new base in Leafield last year had affected their start to 2013. “We made the decision to carry over the 2012 car to the start of this season for a number of reasons,” he explained, “in particular because this time last year ?ǣ which is typically the time of the year when you need to produce tooling for the next season?s car – the team was busy moving from one side of the UK to the other, and now we are back ahead of Marussia with the chance to reclaim tenth in the second half of the year.”

Beginning the season with a very similar car to last year’s CT01 meant the team struggled in the opening races: “A personal low was Melbourne [second practice] when we were nowhere. Marussia was fast, their drivers had settled very quickly and we knew that our car would not evolve for a couple of races.”

The team is still last in the championship behind Marussia but they were comfortably ahead of the MR02s in Hungary and Abiteboul expects to see further progress in the second half of the year:

“Each time we bring new parts to the track, not only do we potentially make progress, but we also give ourselves the chance to learn more about us, our strengths and our weaknesses and to give motivation to our staff whether at the factory or at the track. We must not forget that we are a young group, with a limited history together, but we are growing every day.”

Abiteboul praised the efforts of his inexperienced driver line-up, who had just one season of racing between them at the beginning of the season:

“As a rookie, Giedo [van der Garde] has had his challenges, but his last race in Hungary was a good reward for his determination and his positive attitude that the team loves,” said Abiteboul. “He?s also going to be helped by the new tyres which will definitely suit his style better than those used for the first nine races.”

“For Charles [Pic], after only one year of experience with Marussia, he immediately made a positive contribution to our development strategy this year and that?s a clear sign of his maturity and of his determination.

“It?s possible the new tyres take away one of his strengths over the other drivers as he was very good at tyre management, but therefore he must adapt and develop other skills in terms of pure race pace to cope with what?s to come. He demands a lot from himself and from us, and I like that. I think that sort of spirit will help push the team forwards.”

Abiteboul added Caterham is also making progress with its plans for the new technical rules in 2014:

“In parallel with the improvements we?re making to the facilities, we must continue to invest in people, raising the experience level and making sure we are future proofed, particularly with new aero and engine regulations just around the corner,” he said.

“We are doing this so we can take advantage of the opportunities 2014 will bring and we’re already above our initial targets for next year, so much so we’re looking at reviewing them for more aggressive ones. The car has been in the [wind] tunnel for a while now, and we’re seeing good numbers, all of which is being achieved while we keep progressing this year, hopefully showing without a doubt that we are on the right path to reduce the gap to the midfield.”

2013 F1 season


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35 comments on Abiteboul pleased with Caterham gains

  1. MNM101 (@mnm101) said on 1st August 2013, 14:14

    What gains? I mean seriously… for three years now Caterham and Marussia Keep saying we’re making gains were making gains… where?on who ? neither of you have got a single point in three years

  2. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 1st August 2013, 14:16

    Marussia up your game, and get rid of Max Chilton who deserves to be nowhere near F1, I think Mars is far enough :-)

  3. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 1st August 2013, 14:19

    Something that really bugs me is that Ben Edwards (BBC F1 commentator) keeps referring to them as “young teams”…. FOURS YEARS OLD NOW!

    A ‘young team’ is its first 3 seasons.

  4. andae23 (@andae23) said on 1st August 2013, 14:45

    I know that there is a lot of criticism on the newer teams for not making the leap to the midfield teams, but to be honest: there have been three teams that entered the scene back in 2010 and the two that remain are still trailing by quite some margin. If it was just one team, then I’d say there is a chance they are just underperforming, but we are talking about three team, each of which is (or was) a professional team that should be taken seriously… we are not talking about Andrea Moda here.

    It just says that it takes more than enthusiasm to establish yourself as a solid midfielder in today’s Formula 1. A team like Caterham or Marussia has to do with about a quarter of a top team’s budget. And on top of that, the technology has developed up to a point that a top team’s F1 car basically cannot be improved any further, which is in stark contrast to 30 years ago, when F1 teams just did something and would turn up at the first race to discover it didn’t work.

    What I’m trying to say is: the teams with the biggest budgets come out on top, and those with the smallest budgets will trail the field. Therefore, I think it’s great that Abiteboul is pleased with Caterham’s performance, because he knows that catching up with the midfielder is unrealistic. If Caterham is ever going to catch up, we will either need them to spend more money (which if all teams decide to do that, it would be a complete disaster), or we need budget caps to force all teams to spend about roughly the same amount of money. It would be so much fairer and more appealing to watch if this would finally happen… I still wear my 2010 Lotus cap at every motorsports event, as a sign of respect for their efforts.

    • Metallion (@metallion) said on 1st August 2013, 15:58

      I respect them too, I think it’s very hard in modern F1 to make big improvements. The margins between the teams are much smaller and the gains to be made much smaller too than in the past.

      Backmarkers have their place in the sport too and they’re a good starting point for rookies. Both Alonso and Webber started with Minardi for example. It’s a work in progress, I don’t care how many years it takes, for me it’s interesting to follow their progress. If nothing else, they’re keeping up with the development of the other teams which isn’t bad either.
      If you look at backmarker teams from the past, these two are on a completely different level and I don’t think they deserve all the criticism they get.

    • Matthijs (@matthijs) said on 2nd August 2013, 8:50

      Agreed. These ‘new’ teams were lured into F1 with the proposed budget cap. This budget cap never materialised, therefore the new teams have a much bigger budget deficit than had taken into account. So, it’s quite remarkable that only one of them went bankrupt.

  5. I love the Pope said on 1st August 2013, 15:56

    I have a soft spot for these guys and their “John Deere” livery. I wish them the bet. I also think Pic isn’t too bad either.

    Can some one help me with pronouncing Abiteboul’s name?

    I say “ah- bit-eh-Bo-Yule” is that right?

  6. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 1st August 2013, 16:00

    How exactly do you pronounce his last name?

    A-bit-a-bowl ?
    Arbee-ta-bool ?

  7. Although I’m losing faith in them as they have made claims of progress frequently with no result, I do hope they make gains enough to beat Marussia as they are definitely the best of the new bunch (however they do not have the best driver line-up: if I had the choice of both Caterham drivers or Jules in my Caterham team I’d still chose Jules) and hopefully they can finally score a point with the regulation changes – the playing field will be partially levelled and maybe they can jump a few of the current midfield teams.

  8. Christopher (@twiinzspeed) said on 1st August 2013, 19:54

    If they are to score, next year will be their best chance. With new engines and a new formula, we should see more blown engines like in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Even if they are a little slow, they need to push for absolute reliability. I wish them the best. Caterham has been the class of the newbies in marketing and enthusiasm. But I also wish they had kept Kovi in a race seat. He would have been able to do more than the current young guys. As a Tifosi, I also like to see Jules Bianci do well. Overall, these 2 young teams are doing well compared to the big guns.

    • Michael Brown (@) said on 1st August 2013, 20:56

      They’re definitely doing better than the backmarkers decades ago, who started from scratch and were out of F1 within a season or two.

    • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 1st August 2013, 21:49

      With new engines and a new formula, we should see more blown engines like in the 90′s and early 2000′s.

      No way. Engines need to last even longer than this year, so they are designed with durability in mind. I think they will blow up even less often than this year.

  9. Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty) said on 1st August 2013, 21:29

    If it wasn’t for blown diffusers, Caterham would have been on the midfield coattails in 2011, however since then the richer teams have developed away from them. 2014 I think will be a great leveller for these two teams – in a way it’s sad that they couldn’t all start from 2009 on an equal playing field, as that’s when the last rule changes came into effect.

  10. Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 2nd August 2013, 0:52

    Next year’s new formula is their best chance to close the gap I suppose. The new formula should be a little bit of a leveller, but there’s no prices for guessing who will be on top.

    For the amount of money Caterham have spent, they have little to show for it. Thats F1 I suppose. I guess throughout the history of the sport, the teams with the most money (ok we had a blip with Toyota and Honda) generally tend to compete at the front, so this is nothing new. Budget caps will be hard to implement and control. Most of the front runners have other businesses affliated to their F1 team, hiding costs will be easy.

  11. Yaya Ishaq (@ferrari_412t) said on 2nd August 2013, 2:54

    The performance in comparison to the midfield runners may be still be too large, but one thing is for sure; in my opinion, they have an absolutely stunning livery.

    • I Love the Pope said on 2nd August 2013, 3:45

      Yeah, I like it too.
      It would be great to see them run someone else in GVG’s seat though.

  12. dutchtreat (@dutchtreat) said on 2nd August 2013, 17:58

    I like to open up a big can of worms. In the past Formula 1 had some very successful customer teams. Just to mention 1, Rob Walker Racing comes to mind. I know about the rules that you must construct your own chassis etc… But something I would like to see in the future. Without it, F1 may not be able to sustain itself. How about “Google” racing a 2014 Red Bull in 2015.
    Just thinking aloud.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 3rd August 2013, 9:30

      @dutchtreat Like I’ve said time and time again, F1 is not a charity. If you can’t afford to compete or don’t want to compete with the current rules – don’t race!

      This whole thing about F1 being ‘unsustainable’ is rubbish. How many times over the years has that been mooted around and nothing actually come of it? We’ve lost 1 team in 4 years which was better than post-2009 when we lost two manufacturers!

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