24 November 2013
Brazilian Grand Prix: Abiteboul: Feedback important for year of change
Heikki Kovalainen's experience alone is interesting to Caterham for 2014, but is it enough to guarantee the Finn a full-time return to racing?
Caterham team chief Cyril Abiteboul has admitted that having a driver who can provide good feedback may be better than one with experience in 2014.
Although the two commodities may well go hand-in-hand, it could influence the direction of the team, which has yet to confirm an occupant for either of its seats in the new-look F1 next year. While many believe that Charles Pic will remain at Leafield, the Frenchman admitted earlier this weekend that he is still a free agent, and Giedo van der Garde is known to be talking to other teams interested in his Dutch backing.
GP2 frontrunner Marcus Ericsson was spotted wearing a VIP pass issued by the team earlier in the Interlagos weekend, throwing his name into the mix, but most interest continues to surround the possible return of Heikki Kovalainen to the team, which he raced for until the start of 2013. Unwilling to become a 'pay driver' just to keep his seat, the Finn opted for a year on the sidelines, only to be summoned by Caterham owner Tony Fernandes when the CT04 needed fine-tuning.
Kovalainen made several FP1 appearances for Caterham, before being snapped up by Lotus as replacement for Kimi Raikkonen at the final two rounds of the year. While the rumour mill has thrown the veteran's name into the frame as a possible permanent replacement for his countryman, Caterham seems the more likely destination for a full-time return.
“First of all, I need to make sure that Lotus is not going to keep him,” Abiteboul joked when asked about the value of Kovalainen's experience to Caterham, “Apart from that, it will be a good thing to have some experience.
“But everything is changing next year, so, how much experience matters when everything is changing is one question. Having said that, what we really want to have, because development and iteration will be very fast at the start of next year in particular, [is] driver that all engineers, all the team, can rely upon. You want to have proper feedback, accurate feedback, to be able to improve the car on an event-to-event basis.
“So that's what we need. We need a driver who is transparent in the way that he is driving the car and providing feedback to everyone.”
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