The Caterham F1 team has announced that Cyril Abiteboul will take over at Team Principal, after team founder Tony Fernandes announced earlier this week that he would be stepping down to invest more time in Caterham’s road car program, along with his other business ventures.
“The strategy for the establishment and growth of Caterham Group has now reached the stage where [I] 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 group CEO Riad Asmat to help take our automotive interests into the next stage of their growth,” Fernandes said in a team media release.
“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 has served as the team’s CEO since September, and – at 35 years of age – the lanky Frenchman takes the mantle of F1’s youngest team principal from Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner, 39.
Abiteboul has previously served as the deputy chairman of Renault Sport, who currently supply the Leafield-based team’s engines that power its CT01 challenger.
“I am honoured to take over as team principal,” added Abiteboul. “I would like to thank Tony and [Dato’] Kamarudin [Bin Meranun, co-chairman of the 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.”
First and foremost, Abiteboul’s main goal will be to help the team regain its tenth-placed position in the Constructors’ Championship standings over the remaining two races of the season.
The team currently lies behind Marussia in the standings, and should it be unable to claim the spot, it will lose a substantial sum of income under the Concorde Agreement’s bonus structure, which awards free freight and a heft championship bonus to the top ten-placed constructors at the end of each season.