2013 F1 season
Caterham 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 – 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.”
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Image © Caterham/LAT