The Leafield based team has still failed to score a point and snatched tenth in the championship from Marussia at the final race of the season.
“It’s obvious that in 2012 we did not meet our own expectations, and we have a lot of work to do to reach the level of performance we need to be at to satisfy our partners and ourselves,” he told the Official Formula One website.
Abiteboul believes that finishing tenth in the championship gives Caterham a good platform for 2013.
“[Tenth in the WCC] means we are on a better financial footing than if we had finished 11th. The benefits of that are obvious and it means we have not had to compromise our 2013 or future plans,” he said. ”The money is obviously important, but what finishing tenth also meant to me was that it showed our team what it felt like to be part of the show, and that’s something that has been missing for most of the 2012 season.”
“Our whole team had that feeling for every lap of the Brazilian race, and it was very special to see what it meant to everyone when Vitaly [Petrov] brought his car home in 11th. This positive energy will be immensely useful for the work we have ahead of us over the winter.”
Abiteboul also reckons new signing Charles Pic is an exciting prospect for Caterham.
“Charles is an extremely exciting prospect. In his first year in F1 he was quick immediately, running some good times and long distances in his first days in the car in testing. From there he developed quickly and his record against Timo [Glock] over the year was impressive,” he said. “On circuits he’d already raced at he was particularly strong and that tells us that in 2013 he’ll be quicker still, with a year under his belt and knowledge of every track now banked forever”.
“We believe that Charles will continue to develop with us and the infrastructure we can give him will help him unlock more pace and develop his feedback better so we can continue to turn him into one of the superstars of the future. He made his first visit to the team on Wednesday last week and he immediately really impressed everyone with his understanding not only of the car, but also of its engineering. That shows that he not only understands how to race, but how to get the best out of his car”.
Pic’s team-mate for 2013 has yet to be confirmed, with Abiteboul hinting that the 2014 regulation changes could play a role in Caterham’s decision.
“There are different options. One option is someone who he can learn from and who he can use as his benchmark for what we want from both our drivers. Another option, more radical, is to accept the fact that 2013 is a transition year that we use to continue building the team before a period of greater stability in 2014, when a lot of other things in the package will change. Both types of candidates are out there, and we are close to making a decision.”
Abiteboul also thinks next season will be a tricky balancing act as teams have to consider the major changes that will take place in 2014.
“For 2013 I’d like to look back and say we continued to develop as a team, seized whatever opportunities came our way and surprised a few people, without compromising the preparation for 2014. For small teams like us 2014 is just as much a major risk -due to our size in particular – as it is an interesting opportunity, due to the quality of the technical relationship with Renault. Anyway, we have the capacity to do that and we are determined to fight harder than ever to succeed, so I hope 2013 is a year we remember for the right reasons”.