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Abiteboul: We’re ahead of targets – now to be more aggressive
Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  05 Aug 2013   |  12:02 pm GMT  |  21 comments

Caterham F1 Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul says that during a season of changeable fortunes, his outfit are already ahead of their 2014 targets and are setting their sites on an aggressive approach to catch the midfield.

Speaking as part of Caterham’s Half-Term Report, the Frenchman discussed their season thus far and how their plans for the coming years are an exciting prospect.

He believes that changes in both the aerodynamic and engine specifications taking place next year has encouraged a strong focus on taking an advantage in to the new-era of Formula One.

“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,” said Abiteboul.

“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 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.”

Tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship has been the minimum requirement for Caterham and their closest rivals, Marussia, since joining the Formula One grid in 2010. Although they are now under different ownership, their competition has created an interesting battle further down the field and the pressure between the two to score the first Championship point is aligned with the financial benefit to ending the season higher up the order.

In fact, Bernie Ecclestone’s plans to only distribute prize money to the top ten teams – therefore having one team that receives no prize-winnings – is a huge incentive to maintain their progress.

The opening races of this year’s season saw Caterham drop away from their Banbury-based competitors, often unable to out-qualify Marussia lead driver Jules Bianchi.

However, the season has turned in their favour in recent races and the team feel that their ambition to battle amongst the mid-field runners is becoming closer.

“It’s been an interesting first half of season for the team and for me personally. This is another great F1 season, with battles pretty much everywhere. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve been fighting with Marussia who have done a great job over the last year. We started the season clearly behind them, but over the last three races a comfortable gap has appeared between us and them, which shows our rate of development. That’s also helped us on a couple of occasions to race a Williams or a Sauber and that shows where we’re setting our targets,” added Abiteboul.
During last year’s Summer break Caterham relocated their company as a whole, from Norfolk to Leafield in Oxfordshire. The move to “Motorsport Valley” was aimed at working with increased efficiency throughout their company, from Caterham Composites to the F1 team itself.

This form of operation is similar in nature to how McLaren make use of their Technology Centre.

“Since moving to Leafield last August, and especially since the start of 2013, the focus was on making sure the factory was up and running and putting ourselves in control of our manufacturing process, reducing lead times and increasing economic efficiency, with the right level of integration.

“Although some refinements are always possible, this will be fully completed right after the summer shutdown. During the second part of the year, we will push to be able to develop more and more accurately in the virtualised environment, the route that our industry is heading towards,”

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  1. Ben G says:

    Ahead of targets for 2014 perhaps. But a long way behind the ‘pushing into Q2′ targets of a couple of years ago.

    1. KOBAYASHI says:

      +1 backmarkers they remain. It cant help having Pic and Van Der wahts his name as drivers…limited technical input and overall knowledge.

      1. Mike Martin says:

        “limited technical input and overall knowledge”

        How exactly do you know this? Van der Garde is new in F1 but has been racing for a long time. I can remember him defeating Vettel and Hamilton in his younger days. Why are you so sure he has limited knowledge/technical input?

        No personal attack intended..just asking for some Caterham F1 insights because you believe/seem you have some to share?

      2. iceman says:

        Yes I think they have a perfectly respectable driver line-up given their position on the grid. Van der Garde showed a lot of talent in lower formulae and Pic has proved solid in F1. A team like Caterham can’t afford to hire big-name drivers. I think the reason for Kovalainen’s departure was financial.

        I think people often over-estimate the driver’s input into the development of the car. If you have drivers who can push the car to a competitive pace then the engineers will be able to collect 99% of the information they need to develop the car.

      3. NoMU says:

        Quick drivers aren’t necessarily gifted in setting up the car up or in providing valuable engineering feedback. It pains me to say it but Alesi was a case in point. If either Pic or Van Der whats his name were both quick and on the ball when it comes to technical input, Caterham would not simply be trading places with the Marussias…its arguable but Marussia came off a lower technical base and are now more or less equivalent with Caterham. Neither are seemingly incapable of mixing it up with either Williams or Sauber who have both slipped back alarmingly. What Caterham need is an experienced driver who brings in useful feedback and who is capable of out driving his equipment. There are two of those fellows out there but one above all…Kubica.

      4. NoMU says:

        apologies for the dodgy grammar…

  2. KRB says:

    Ok, but targets have to be relative to what others are doing, no? I’m sure their target wasn’t to be 11th in the WCC at the summer break!

    The “… now to be more aggressive” quote is a little concerning … hope that doesn’t mean that the Caterhams will be even more obstinate on track when being lapped.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Only when they’re being lapped by the Marussia’s ;)

  3. goferet says:

    It’s one thing having a competitive car and another thing having pilots that can extract the maximum out of their machinery.

    So if I were Catheham, I would be scheming of ways to get Jules Bianchi on the employee rooster for the special drivers have always shone at the back of the grid.

  4. Elie says:

    Yes but does Cyril have any clue about his oppositions targets

  5. All revved-up says:

    Look forward to Caterham joining the mid field, and scoring their first F1 championship point. That’s enough talk for now. Let’s get back to on track action.

    In this world “talkers” seem to out number “doers” by 50 to 1. Top sportsmen let their driving, racquets, batting, etc . . . do the talking.

    Those who are good at talking should try their hand at politics. Or retire and be a pundit!

    1. Random 79 says:

      Honestly I think the only point in Cyril speaking at this point is to reassure the sponsors and remind everyone that they still exist.

      Hopefully they pick it up in 2014, but considering they pretty much had the same targets for 2011, 2012 and 2013 I’m not exactly super confident.

  6. Pierre says:

    [mod] Stop producing PR work and start, at last, to build a car that would be able to fight the teams ahead. Ridiculous. And I’m sure there are also other teams that are “already ahead of their 2014 targets”.

  7. Rob Newman says:

    The first sentence made me laugh. Just like Ferrari, haven’t they been telling the same thing for the past few years? LOL!

  8. dup says:

    Abitboul is NOT a Frenchman is ISRAELI so please call people what they are,and ask him he will tell you.But his analysis of the Lotus situation is damn right.

  9. Craig in Manila says:

    When someone puts the words “hopefully” and “without a doubt” into the same sentence, I tend to think that the former outweighs the latter.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Or slightly re-arranged:

      “Fully doubt” and “without a hope”

      1. Craig in Manila says:

        Yep, agreed, that’s certainly a more-accurate summation of their position than the blah-blah-blah that was provided in the “Half Term Report”.

  10. gudien says:

    Yeh, whatever happened to the wildly optimistic targets of years ago when they were called Lotus? Reality is this team will perish sooner or later and be one of Formula One’s forgotten organisations.

  11. Jake says:

    A target should be something to aim for, not something easily achieved. It should also be easily measured such as 5 tenths increase in lap pace or a 3 second pit stop. Having a target to beat another team is not a great measure of your success as it also depends on the other teams performance.

  12. Owen says:

    Despite the trumpeted move to Leafield and Tony F claiming that it has taken him “3 years to fix Caterham” they are going backwards – no more of those cheery press releases of the past with wild predictions of moving to the “midfield”. Clearly Tony F was the “darling” of the media when he entered as Lotus – but I fear reality has set in and their blue-chip sponsors will gradually flee. Hope I’m wrong, because I really was hoping they would come good. Only hope is that they had long written off 2013, and putting everything into 2014, but I don’t foresee a seismic leap forward, based on their stuttering progress …


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