Caterham today announced that the team’s CEO, Cyril Abiteboul, will take over for Tony Fernandes as team principal. The move is effective immediately.
Here’s the team’s announcement. And some excerpts:
Tony Fernandes, Caterham Group Chairman: “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 Riad 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.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal Caterham F1 Team: “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 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.”
That sounds pretty much like a stay-the-course move. And I don’t suppose you can blame the team. By all measures — except for that one pesky Marussia finish — Caterham has been the best of the new teams by far.
The announcement also gives us a bit more on Fernandes’ move into Caterham’s planned sports car expansion. Here’s a quote from Fernandes:
“We have taken Caterham Group from nothing just three years ago to today, where Caterham Cars has the platform with Renault to take it from a niche brand into an innovative participant in the global automotive market. Caterham Technology is also integrally involved in the Renault partnership, working with Renault on the design and development of our road cars, as well as currently working with a number of other blue-chip companies including Airbus, and they are fast being recognised as a leading player in the technology and innovation fields. Caterham Composites is also in rude health, working with CTI on the Airbus project in addition to a variety of other cutting-edge programs that will soon see the light of day. In summary, Riad is now leading a group of businesses that put the Caterham name at the forefront of the technological and innovation fields across a wide range of industries.”
I suppose that makes it sound more like Caterham is trying to squeeze in on … Lotus of all companies. The bad blood’s there for a rivalry, right?