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Abiteboul aims to make Caterham F1 founders’ ‘dreams come true’ as he takes on team principal mantle
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Caterham/LAT
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Nov 2012   |  4:18 pm GMT  |  19 comments

Cyril Abiteboul has been appointed as the man to take over the day-to-day running of the Caterham F1 Team from Tony Fernandes and lead the Leafield-based outfit into its next chapter of development.

As has always been his plan, team co-owner Fernandes this week revealed he had decided to step down from the team principal role to concentrate on his wider business interests having finally aligned the F1 team to a manufacturer entity with Caterham Cars and, in recent days, entered into a major sports car project with Renault.

The Caterham Group’s growing links to the French manufacturer were hinted at two months ago when Abiteboul initially joined the team from its F1 engine supplier to become its new CEO and now, with immediate effect, the 35-year-old will combine the two roles going forward.

Fernandes, who had already attended fewer grands prix in the second half of the season, said in a statement: “Having launched our partnership with Renault in Paris on Monday the plan Kamarudin and I formed over three years ago for our automotive interests has come to fruition 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 [Caterham Group CEO] Riad [Asmat] to help take our automotive interests into the next stage of their growth.

“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.

“This decision allows Kamarudin and I to focus on AirAsia and gives Riad the structure he needs to allow the various Caterham Group businesses to flourish under his leadership. Kamarudin and I will continue as Co-Chairman of Caterham Group and we now have the best possible team in place to take our dream into its next phase.”

With the team now approaching the end of its third season in F1, Abiteboul’s initial remit is likely to be steering the team towards its first point in 2013 and finally becoming a bona-fide midfield team,

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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19 Comments
  1. DonSimón says:

    Got to hand it to Tony, he seems to have a series of goals he is meeting one by one. Would love to see them make the big step towards the established teams next year.

    1. KGBVD says:

      Well… at least he’s meeting his OFF TRACK goals. A point or two would have gone down very nicely by now.

      1. DonSimón says:

        I meant broadly. Football, aviation, F1, he seems to get the job done in most cases. Bet Vijay Malya hates him!

  2. Tom Adams says:

    Any idea why they didnt step forward this year James? Seem like everybody expected them too step up in 2012 especially with Mark Smith’s arrival who did well at Force India.

    1. Kam says:

      I think based on last year, where some of the established teams faulted, Williams, Sauber etc, this years expecations was to beat them or get involved.

      However, lasts midfielders have stepped up bar Torro Rosso (although they have gained in the 2nd half). Leaving the new starters behind, eg: Caterham etc, gain a good 1 second, where as Williams, Sauber etc have gained a good 1.5secs.

      Just my opinion.

      Kam

    2. Rob says:

      Something about Gascoyne’s obsession with planes and boats instead of the factory? Just parroting some vague statement I read on them Internets…

  3. dzolve says:

    Excuse my ignorance but is Cyril the tall man or the one wearing glasses?

    1. Elie says:

      It’s more that Tony & more so – Kamarudin are vertically challenged. Cyril not so !

  4. Rich B. says:

    if they want to move forward they need to keep heikki, they won’t go far with 2 pay drivers

    1. DonSimón says:

      Good call.

  5. vvipkho says:

    the young team principal in F1 ahead other team principal..

    looking forward next season car CT02..

  6. JB HAM says:

    They were fighting for James Key, but Torro Rosso got him instead. Right now they need a good TD and head aerodynamicist to go up the grid.

  7. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    I will go against the grain a little and suggest that Tony is probably happy with the team’s position (although would be even happier if the car was at TR level). I don’t believe he aims to challenge RB or McLaren. Why commit that sort of money when you have a growing airline with a much better return on equity? For me, this is about creating a self sustaining business that effectively gives him comparatively cheap advertising combined with a growing niche business on the car side. Not everyone wants to be the biggest. Some just want to be the best in their small niche for their budget.

    1. Toleman fan says:

      That would make perfect sense…if the team didn’t keep publicly setting targets they then fail to meet…

  8. JCA says:

    I remember last year’s hilarious press conference row between Witmarsh and Horner at Silverstone, Fernandes claimed not to understand the off throttle issue, if for comic relief, it was OK, if it was true, then that shows why they needed a Pro.

  9. Tony says:

    @JB HAM – agree completely.

    Disappointed in Caterham this year to be honest. With the Red BUll powertrain and KERS for the first time this year that should have been a free half second per lap, even without chassis and aero development.

    Fair enough, the midfield teams have improved, but I expected them to put clear water between themselves and Marussia (who still have no KERS). Gap has closed if anything.

  10. DK says:

    It looks most likely they are losing P10 to Marrusia this season with 2 races to go. Ouch …

  11. Elie says:

    Yeah I expected bigger things from Caterham with KERS . I think Fernandes realised for a sustainable business someone in the know needs to run it. Cyril looks more of a Marketing type bloke – that’s his background with Renault initially from what little Ive read– he hasn’t spent that much time at the top- CEO. He will have a massive job just to hold position because Caterhams competition won’t wait for anyone and I think Marussias partnership with Mclaren is slowly coming to fruition. You can only wish the guy the best of luck .

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