By Berthold Bouman
Caterham are hoping to build on the progress they made in Spain, and are optimistic ahead of round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Monaco Grand Prix, the most prestigious race on the 2013 calendar. There is no room for errors at the Monte Carlo street circuit, one mistake, and the race is over.
Cyril Abiteboul: In Barcelona we built on that performance
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul is hoping the car upgrades introduced in Spain will help his team to make more progress. “The Spanish Grand Prix was a very busy race for us, the busiest of the season so far. We raced a hybrid 2012/2013 car for the first three races of the season and then introduced a number of new parts in Bahrain on Charles Pic’s car that helped him secure the best ever performance our team has seen in pace terms since we came into the sport,” Abiteboul said.
And he added, “In Barcelona we built on that performance, introducing the first major 2013 package on both Charles’ and Giedo’s cars but, honestly, it wasn’t an easy weekend for us. We’re still a relatively young, small team and bringing such a large number of new parts always presents challenges with set-up and integration of the package into the cars, particularly with such limited time to test your ideas on Friday and Saturday.”
Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1
Giedo van der Garde: It’s a pretty mad weekend
Dutchman Giedo van der Garde has been on the podium in Monaco several times during other race events, but knows the circuit is a tough challenge, “It’s a pretty mad weekend, with a lot of guests and fans everywhere, closer than you see anywhere else in the season, but once you’re in the car it’s very important to have a good flow or you’ll lose time and increase the chance of making a mistake.”
He thinks the smaller teams have a chance to do well at the street circuit, “Monaco’s also a place where the smaller teams, like us, can do something special. It’s a shorter lap than many of the other tracks we race on, and everyone has to run as much downforce as possible, so outright speed isn’t the key.”
Charles Pic – Photo: Caterham F1
Charles Pic: We are running with a different set-up
Charles Pic also knows the circuit is a great challenge and said, “For the car it’s completely different than almost any other track, so we are running with a different set-up there to optimise the mechanical grip.”
The Frenchman also thinks the Monaco race is an opportunity for the smaller teams to score points, and explained, “You can hope that it can be a good chance for you to finish in a good position, but with such a tight circuit and so many chances for something to happen it’s something we can’t control so we have to be focused on optimising the car, extracting 100 per cent for qualifying and then focusing on the race. We’ll have to make sure we go the right way on tyre choice and strategy, and then we’ll see. We’ve definitely been improving over the last couple of races, so the aim is to carry that through to Monaco.”
Caterham are currently 11th and last in the Constructors’ Championship, while Pic and van der Garde are 20th and 21st in the Drivers’ Championship.
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By Berthold Bouman
A surprise this week as Heikki Kovalainen has signed as reserve driver for Caterham for the forthcoming two Grands Prix of Bahrain and Spain. He will be testing new parts during FP1 and deliver feedback to the Caterham engineers. Caterham stated that the Finn ‘will be helping to support the introduction of the first performance updates to the 2013 car, an important milestone in the strategy the team are working to in the current season’.
Cyril Abiteboul: Kovalainen has six years of Formula One experience
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul is delighted to welcome Kovalainen back to Caterham and said in a team statement, “He has six years of Formula One experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds.”
“Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings. As F1 is a team sport, he will also provide support to Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, who are both doing a good job in their first months with the team.”
Heikki Kovalainen returns to Caterham – Photo: Caterham F1
Charles Pic: I was pleased with my performance in Shanghai
Pic finished in 16th place in Shanghai, and said, “I was pleased with my performance in Shanghai and now the aim is to take that on to the race in Bahrain and keep making decent progress before we get back to Europe.”
And the Frenchman added, “We’re also bringing some new parts to Bahrain so we’ll work on optimising their performance as much as possible in each session. This is only the first stage of the 2013 developments we’re bringing so we’re very realistic about what we might find this weekend, and we’re not going to make any predictions about what they’re going to bring in terms of lap time, but we’ll focus on integrating them into the package we’ve used in the first three races and see where we end up.”
Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1
Giedo van der Garde: China was a pretty tough weekend
Dutchman van der Garde explained the difficulties of the Sakhir circuit, “It’s quite a technical circuit that evolves a lot as the weekend progresses. It’ll be very sandy on Friday but with every lap that’s completed it rubbers in and the grip levels improve a lot – that’s important in each session, particularly quali as you need to time your run to make the most of the track evolution so strategy will be really important all weekend.”
Van der Garde wants to push harder this weekend and said, “Coming straight after China, the race in Bahrain is also a chance for me to get back to the performance levels I want to be racing at. China was a pretty tough weekend, but I’ve had a couple of days to recharge since leaving Shanghai. Since announcing my F1 drive I’ve been really clear that the first few races were always going to be tough for a rookie, but it’s all part of the learning process so I’m as positive as ever and looking forward to getting back to work.”
Caterham is 11th and last in the 2013 Constructors’ standings, while Pic is 19th, and van der Garde 21st in the race for the 2013 Formula One crown.
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By Berthold Bouman
Caterham also has totally renewed their driver line-up ahead of round one of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship at Melbourne, drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde will defend the honours of the Anglo-Malaysian team in Australia this weekend.
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul: A proud moment for the whole team
Caterham’s new Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul thinks it will be a proud moment for Caterham, “Australia will be a proud moment for the whole team. 2013 is our fourth year in F1, the first with our new livery and the first season start since we moved into Leafield.”
He is especially proud about the development of their first in-house designed and built new car. “The wind tunnel we use has been upgraded to meet our exact specifications and is now producing results that turn into definite improvements. We are continuing to improve the efficiencies and working practices within the team so we can compete both on track and as a viable business with a secure long-term future and we are bringing in talented people at all levels to keep pushing us forward.”
And he added, “We have the facilities, we have the people and we have the infrastructure we need to take the next step forwards. We will do that in a calm, measured way, one that is grounded in a realistic view of the highly competitive world in which we operate, but we will do it with the greatest possible level of energy, passion and enthusiasm.”
Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic – Photo: Caterham F1
Charles Pic: We’re definitely ready to start racing
Frenchman Charles Pic, who moved from Marussia to Caterham, likes the Melbourne street circuit, “The circuit itself is very cool. It’s quick but as it’s a temporary street circuit the cars run with high downforce and it’s a good challenge to get a really clean lap in. FP1 is always quiet as the track is very green for the early part of the session, but it evolves a lot over the weekend and you need to time your qualifying lap right to make the most of the rubber that’s being laid down.”
He too, is ready to roar after winter testing, “After the tests we’re definitely ready to start racing. We have a good idea of where we’re going to start out and I think we have a very interesting season ahead of us. Whatever happens, I’m enjoying myself in Caterham and it’s great to be part of a team that has such an exciting future ahead.”
Giedo van der Garde: I can’t wait to get started
Rookie Giedo van der Garde can’t wait to get started and he commented ahead of his maiden Grand Prix, “Melbourne will be my first Grand Prix start and, even though it’s taken a while to reach this point, I’m completely prepared and really looking forward to getting back to racing.”
“It’s still a different world, being a race driver rather than a reserve, but I’m enjoying every minute,” the Dutchman said.
“Over the season, I know Spa is going to be a great race as it’s so close to home, but for me the most exciting moment of 2013 will be when the lights go out in Melbourne and everything I’ve dreamed of for so long comes true. I’ve worked hard all winter and in the tests to prepare myself and I’m ready, physically and mentally!”
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By Berthold Bouman
A busy day at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain today, as it is the first day of the first pre-season testing days, but early in the morning, before testing officially started, Caterham revealed their 2013 contender, the CT03, to the public.
According to Technical Director Mark Smith, the CT03 is the first car produced in the Leafield Technical Centre, and therefore ‘marks an important milestone in the development of the team’. As all other teams, Caterham also had to work on their 2014 car, and therefore decided the CT03 would rather be more an evolution of its predecessor, and not a completely new designed car.
Smith commented about the changes of the 2013 design, “Among the most obvious are around the lower chassis where the side pods have been significantly undercut to improve airflow to the rear of the car. The diffuser, engine cover and cooling exits have also seen major changes and there are more subtle improvements to other areas of the car, such as the sidepod turning vanes and the lower tea-tray area,” Smith said.
All Photos: Caterham F1
But he’s already thinking about the future development of the car, “This is the package we will take to race one in Australia and as part of the 2013 upgrade program we will then bring new front and rear wings and a new diffuser soon after the start of the season.”
Cyril Abiteboul, who was appointed Team Principal last year, commented, “This is the first car we have produced since I joined the team so this is a proud day for me. I am very pleased that we have been able to allocate our resources and budgets as efficiently as possible to produce a car that will allow us to consolidate our position in Formula One whilst also starting work on the 2014 car as early as possible.”
The CT03 has a slightly different livery this season, and Abiteboul said, “From the outside, the most obvious change to CT03 car is the livery. Whilst retaining the green and yellow paint scheme that has become synonymous with our team since 2010, we have refreshed both colours to enhance their visibility on track and give them what will be, we believe, one of the best looking liveries in the pit lane.”
He’s also happy with the choice of drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. “Charles and Giedo are both young and dynamic and we expect that their enthusiasm for the sport and the team will be fuelling our growth. Additionally, they provide clear proof of our dedication to developing young driver talent and now, any aspiring driver who dreams of F1 can see that there is a clear route to the F1 grid under the guidance of the Caterham Driver Development Program, the 2013 format of which will soon be presented,” he said.
Tony Fernandes, Co-Chairman of the Caterham Group said, “Having stepped up to the role of Co-Chairman of Caterham Group I will be playing less of a day-to-day role with the team but I am delighted that we go into our fourth season in such a strong position.”
And he added, “I am realistic enough to know that we still have a long journey ahead of us, but the dream is steadily coming true. We have invested in the long-term, not taken any short-cuts and we have everything in place to keep moving forwards.”
By Berthold Bouman
Great news for the Dutch Formula One fans, Caterham F1 has confirmed that Giedo van der Garde, their 2012 reserve driver, has been promoted to full-time race driver for the 2013 season. Earlier in his career van der Garde drove for the Caterham GP2 team, and scored six podium places and two wins.
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul commented, “Everyone in the team is delighted that we can finally confirm that Giedo will be racing for us in the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. He has been part of our family since early 2012 when he joined our GP2 team and was appointed as reserve driver for the Formula One team.”
And he added, “He acquitted himself extremely well in both his GP2 season and his six FP1 sessions, progressively improving his outright pace, technical feedback and his relationship with his engineers and mechanics, giving us the clear justification for promoting him to Formula One.”
Giedo van der Garde in the Caterham in 2012 – Photo: Caterham F1
Van der Garde will team-up with Charles Pic and Abiteboul said, “This is the next natural step for Giedo with our team. We continue to grow as a team and we are committed to giving young talent across the motorsport industry the chance to grow with us and this is Giedo’s opportunity to show he deserves his place at the very highest level of global motorsport. He and Charles have been team-mates before so he is an excellent choice to partner Charles in what is going to be another very interesting season, and we are all looking forward to seeing Giedo continue to progress as he takes on the ultimate challenge of Formula One.”
Van der Garde was of course elated to finally have made it into the pinnacle of motorsports, Formula One, “I am absolutely delighted to confirm that I will be racing in the 2013 Formula One World Championship with Caterham F1 Team. I want to thank Cyril, Tony Fernandes, McGregor and everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen.”
The 27-year old driver reckons he is ready for it, “I know I am ready to take the step up to Formula One and all the work I have done throughout my career, and particularly in the last year with this team, has brought me to my ultimate goal.”
About his role in 2012 he commented, “Throughout 2012 I was able to fully integrate myself into the team, both through the FP1 sessions I ran at a number of tracks that were then new to me, and as reserve driver, fully embedded with the team throughout the season.”
“Now I can continue to learn at the highest level of motorsport and show that I am ready for F1. I cannot wait to start work.”
By Berthold Bouman
Heikki Kovalainen has played down the criticism of Caterham’s technical boss Mike Gascoyne, who recently commented that it was the Finn’s lack of respect for the team that had harmed his chances to secure a race seat with Caterham for this season.
The rift started after Kovalainen had said in an interview conducted by Autosport that he believed the limited funding he has is the biggest hurdle in fiding a seat for this season, and also complained thay his recent driving had gone unnoticed.
“Of course we’re working flat-out to see if we can do something about it, but the problem is the results that I’ve had over these last two or three years have not been enough to get in a top car, and then the average teams are in a situation now where they have to take pay drivers, and that rules out the second half of the grid,” Kovalainen said to Autosport.
And he added, “It’s a tricky situation that I’m in now, although people say you’ve driven well, you’ve done a good job, the fact is that 15th or 16th or 17th on paper that is not as good as someone who’s been sixth or seventh or eighth. It was slightly surprising, I thought after last season and the last couple of years I thought I’d be in a better position on the market.”
Heikki Kovalainen – Photo: Catherham F1
Gascoyne last week reacted on Kovalainen’s complaints and stated money indeed plays an important role, and admitted Caterham is considering to replace Kovalainen by a pay driver. “We realise what the game is. People [and teams] boom and bust easily,” he said. “We have come in and done a very steady job compared to other new teams and have been professional, but we’ve taken a step back and said ‘Ok, we are not going to get there straight away, we need to manage our budgets, manage investment and build up our resources so we are here for the long term’.”
Gascoyne, however, thinks there are other reasons the 31-year old driver still hasn’t secured his seat at Caterham, “It is actually a great shame, Heikki is a very talented driver but, last year, his management did not handle him very well and he has not done himself any favours. He has had three years with Caterham, was paid well, and he should have shown more respect about that.”
The rift continued today as Kovalainen played down Gascoyne’s comments. “I have always had a good relationship with him,” he said, adding, “My relationship with him will continue even now. Mike is a seasoned professional and he and I have worked together for a long time.”
The Finn also stated the current negotiations only concern him, Tony Fernandes and Cyril Abiteboul — Caterham’s new Team Principal — and Gascoyne has nothing to do with it. About his future he said, “At the moment, the negotiations are continuing and I am not thinking about anything other than Formula One. First, let’s finish playing the game until the end.”
“Then, when we know the outcome, [we will] think about what to do next.”
By Berthold Bouman
Caterham F1 today announced they have signed a multi-year contract with Charles Pic, the Frenchman who currently drives for Marussia, will be the team’s race driver in 2013 and beyond. Caterham were impressed with Pic’s first season in Formula One, and decided to sign the 22-year old driver from Montélimar, France.
Caterham Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul was happy with his new driver and commented, “We are all looking forward to working with a young driver who has clearly shown in his first season in F1 that he has the pace, race craft and demeanour to help us achieve our goals.”
And Abiteboul added, “We have been monitoring the progress that Charles has made, challenging us on several occasions in qualifying, and it is clear that he is a special talent. As the year has progressed he has performed extremely well against a very experienced team mate and we are looking forward to seeing him develop further within the environment we will provide in 2013 and beyond.”
Pic was proud that he was given the opportunity to race for the Anglo-Malaysian team, “I am very proud to be able to confirm that I am joining Caterham F1 Team next year and I’m looking forward to many seasons of successful racing co-operation. I’m enthusiastic to have the opportunity to continue to grow in a team that has a technical relationship with a number of French global companies, including Renault and Total, plus an official partnership with EADS.”
Caterham is still growing as a Formula One team and Pic added, “It is clear that the team has great ambitions for the future: the investments already made and the decisions taken in the last few months show how committed the shareholders are to succeed and demonstrates their willingness to keep going forward.”
Jean-François Caubet, Managing Director of Renault Sport F1 said, “We are always motivated to see promising drivers in our partner teams and Charles is no exception. Additionally, France remains the largest Renault market and having another young, dynamic French driver join the Renault stable will give us further branding, marketing and PR opportunities. We look forward to working with him closely over the coming years.”
By Berthold Bouman
On Tuesday Caterham announced Tony Fernandes would step down as Caterham F1 Team Principal, today the Malaysian outfit confirmed Cyril Abiteboul has been promoted to the role of Team Principal with immediate effect.
“On the racing side we have come to the conclusion that it is better if someone else takes over the Team Principal role to move forward,” Fernandes said on Tuesday about his retirement as Team Principal.
Today Fernandes commented, “The strategy for the establishment and growth of Caterham Group has now reached the stage where we can step back from the day-to-day running of the F1 team in favour of Cyril who will be able to dedicate himself full-time to the role and work closely with Riad [Asmat, Caterham Group CEO] to help take our automotive interests into the next stage of their growth.”
And he added, “Cyril is going to be an excellent Team Principal. He has extensive experience in F1, he is extremely well-respected and he shares our vision for what we want our team to achieve. He takes over during a season when we have not yet fulfilled our potential, but at a time when we have everything in place to help us do so. One day we will earn our seat at the top table of Formula 1 and he is the right person to take us there.”
Abiteboul said today, “I am honoured to take over as Team Principal, now combining that role with the CEO post I took up in September 2012, and I would like to thank Tony and Kamarudin [Meranum, Co-Chairman Caterham Group] for the chance to lead this team into the next phase of its growth.
“We have big challenges ahead of us but the shareholders are committed and behind us to help us take significant steps forward over the coming years, and one day challenge for the highest honours in F1.
“We have an incredible spirit within the team and that has been created by Tony and Kamarudin. This spirit, allied to a strategic vision that gives us a clear path to success, is what will keep driving us forwards and we all look forward to the day we can make the dreams our shareholders had several years ago come true.”
Riad Asmat, Cyril Abiteboul and Tony Fernandes