Caterham F1 sees the season opening Australian Grand Prix as a fresh start for the team.
Over the winter, the squad – which now occupies the old Arrows factory in Leafield, Oxfordshire – underwent management and driver changes with Cyril Abiteboul taking over from Tony Fernandez as team principal, and Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde occupying the seats formerly held by Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov. The 2013 car, the Caterham CT03, has also received a livery change, with the British Racing Green that the team ran since their first season in 2010 being replaced with a brighter shade.
Speaking ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Abiteboul said he views the event as a 'proud moment' for Caterham and maintained that the factory move was key in helping the team to reach their long-term goals.
“Australia will be a proud moment for the whole team. 2013 is our fourth year in F1, the first with our new livery and the first season start since we moved into Leafield,” he said. “On the surface it may look like we're starting 2013 in a similar position to 2012, but inside the team it is very different.
“We have a base in Oxfordshire in which we now control all elements of the design and production in-house. The wind tunnel we use has been upgraded to meet our exact specifications and is now producing results that turn into definite improvements. We are continuing to improve the efficiencies and working practices within the team so we can compete both on track and as a viable business with a secure long-term future and we are bringing in talented people at all levels to keep pushing us forwards.”
In comparison to previous years, Abiteboul provided a more realistic approach ahead of the season but added that motivation within the team was still high despite this.
“At the end of 2012 we were a central part of the F1 show, and I have told both drivers to be ready to be part of the show in 2013, maybe not right at the start, but with what we have coming to the car during the season, we can be confident that we are going to attract interest in us, for the right reasons,” he added.
“We have the facilities, we have the people and we have the infrastructure we need to take the next step forwards. We will do that in a calm, measured way, one that is grounded in a realistic view of the highly competitive world in which we operate, but we will do it with the greatest possible level of energy, passion and enthusiasm.”
Pic and van der Garde meanwhile are both looking forward to heading to Melbourne for the first event.
“I think it's going to be a good weekend,” said Pic. “Melbourne itself is a very nice city. It's good to go from the end of the cold European winter to the hotter weather of Australia and even though the hours you spend flying mean you arrive feeling a bit destroyed, it's the same for everyone and I'm feeling good physically and mentally so it won't be an issue.
“The circuit itself is very cool. It's quick but as it's a temporary street circuit the cars run with high downforce and it's a good challenge to get a really clean lap in. FP1 is always quiet as the track is very green for the early part of the session, but it evolves a lot over the weekend and you need to time your qualifying lap right to make the most of the rubber that's being laid down.