Caterham F1 CEO and team principal Cyril Abiteboul has heralded the company's latest world championship challenger as the car to push it further up the grid and, potentially, become its first ever point-scorer in 2014.
Speaking as the Renault-powered CT05 made its maiden public appearance midway through the opening day of pre-season testing at Jerez, the Frenchman commended the efforts made behind the scenes as Caterham attempts not only to bounce back from statistically its worst F1 season in four attempts, but also to deal with a raft of regulation changes that effectively mandated a clean sheet of paper approach to the design of the 2014 machine.
"Having [drivers] Kamui [Kobayashi] and Marcus [Ericsson] unveiling CT05 is a proud moment for me and the whole team, especially with both F1 and Caterham entering a new era in 2014,” Abiteboul said, “Our shareholders and partners have made major investments in the people and facilities at Leafield, giving us a platform to work on the 2014 car that is now much closer to many of the teams ahead and, this year, there is no reason for this to not materialise directly to performance on track.
"We believe CT05 is a good starting point for us to deal with the new regulations and their associated challenges, in particular in terms of reliability. We have a lot of very talented people at Leafield, who have worked tirelessly to bring this car to life and everyone has played a part in helping us exceed all the targets we set. We obviously won't know where we really are in relation to the other teams until the first race, but we believe we have answered the challenges presented by the new regulations as effectively as we can.
"We also have very good reason to be positive about how this car will develop throughout the season ahead. Thanks to our relocation in 2012 to at the core of the 'F1 valley', and a highly selective recruitment plan, our staff are now a good mix of experience and young talent and we have moved our wind tunnel program to the Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) facility in Cologne, Germany. This means we are now working at 60 per cent scale, a significant improvement over our previous facility and another sign of just how serious we are about making real progress this year. In addition to the TMG move is an improved partnership with Dell/Intel which gives us, among many other benefits, a major upgrade to our CFD capability, a critical part of our design toolbox that is even more important this year with the rule changes governing wind tunnel use in 2014.
"In Renault Sport F1 and Red Bull Technology, we have technical partners that have powered the world championship-winning team for the last four years and, while we are realistic enough to know we are very unlikely to be competing at the front of the grid, there is no reason why we should not be fighting higher than we have done since we came into the sport in 2010. We have extensive experience of working with both Renault and Red Bull, and that is going to be crucial this year. Reliability and energy management will play a key role in 2014, especially early in the season, so our experience of working so closely with both organisations since 2011 will definitely help throughout the course of the season.
"We have team partners with us again in 2014 that are the envy of the pit-lane. I have already mentioned our increased partnership with Dell/Intel, but I also want to highlight the work we are doing with GE and Airbus Group. In GE we have a partner that has world-leading R&D, technical resources and people, and they have played an active role in the design and development of CT05. In addition to GE we also have Airbus Group and the benefits of a partnership with a company that leads the world in aeronautical design, testing, manufacturing and usage are obvious. Our technical integration with Airbus will grow throughout the season and it is this sort of true partnership that will help us achieve the goals we have set for 2014 and beyond.”
Abiteboul also welcomed the all-new driving line-up spearheading Caterham's assault on the 2014 championship, with Kobayashi returning to the top flight after sitting out 2013, and Ericsson stepping up from a lengthy spell in GP2.
"Behind the wheel, we have a good mix of experience, pace and passion in Kamui, and with Marcus we have given another GP2 star the chance to make the step up to F1,” he said, “His career has led him to 2014, the season he makes his F1 debut, and we are confident he will make the step up to the top level in the same calm yet quick manner he has shown throughout his career.
“Helping Kamui and Marcus develop the car throughout the year will be Robin Frijns and Alexander Rossi, who will be our 2014 reserves. Robin is an undoubted talent and we are pleased he sees that, with us, he can prepare fully for a future F1 seat. Alexander has been with us since 2011 and we have seen him develop enormously since then. Now he has a real chance to fight for the GP2 championship throughout 2014, and to continue his F1 development at non-GP2 race weekends and in our simulator."