Despite team principal Cyril Abiteboul talking about the benefits of consistency when it comes to driver line-ups, Caterham may yet have to two new faces in its cars for 2014.
Abiteboul admitted during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend that his team couldn't afford to wait as late as it did this season before confirming its line-up, acknowledging the importance of team and drivers having time to work together ahead of the technical changes that arrive next year.
Although Caterham currently has Charles Pic tied to a multi-year deal, it has yet to officially confirm the Frenchman for 2014, while Giedo van der Garde and Heikki Kovalainen are both thought to be in the running for a race seat. The uncertainty over Pic's situation was underlined by manager Olivier Panis, who told France's Canal Plus
that his charge was in talks with other teams, while similar claims from van der Garde's management suggest that Caterham could be looking for two drivers rather than retaining its current line-up.
“We can never say that we are 100 per cent sure [about the future],” Panis admitted, “Stability is important for Charles, but we have been approached by other teams, we must listen to what's going on and I think that all decisions will [take] longer than last year, maybe to the end of the year. However, Charles will
be in F1 next year.”
Although Panis did not reveal exactly who he had been speaking to with regard to 2014, the usual suspects – Sauber and Force India – are expected to be in the mix, particularly as Pic can call on a solid financial package.
van der Garde, too, brings a handy sponsorship package from the McGregor clothing brand, and has already been linked to both Force India and Sauber, while Williams remains a possibility should the Grove team not conclude a deal with Felipe Massa.
"I think everyone has observed Giedo's progression, and he showed well again in Abu Dhabi, as the fastest of the two teams [at the back of the field] ,” Jan-Paul ten Hoopen told Holland's De Telegraaf
, "You can't ask for more than that from a driver in his position.
"We have four teams who have serious interest in Giedo. All want to keep the lines open with us, and there will certainly be follow-up appointments. However, the musical chairs in F1 is just like playing in a casino - nothing is certain."
Abiteboul's call for Caterham to make a swifter decision on its line-up was tempered by the need to balance consistency of personnel with the right sort of driver to help push the team into F1's new technical era.