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.”