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Caterham 'let Kovalainen down'
11 February 2013
Caterham team boss Cyril Abiteboul has said that the Leafield-based squad 'let its drivers down' after failing to get into a position to score points in the 2012 F1 season – with that factor playing a part in Heikki Kovalainen's departure after three years.
Kovalainen joined the team, then running under the Lotus banner, when it joined the grid but left ahead of the 2013 campaign along with Vitaly Petrov as Caterham switched to a new-look driver line-up for its fourth year in the sport.
Last year in particular, Caterham had hoped to push forwards towards the points scoring positions but instead only managed to secure tenth in the standings in the final race of the year after becoming embroiled in a heated battle for position for Marussia.
Abiteboul said that the decision of team and driver to go their separate ways had been an amicable one and that the team had failed to deliver for its driver in terms of performance.
"Heikki is not one of our two race drivers; we continue to have discussions with Heikki to see if a different project could be possible,” he said. “Let's be honest: we'd be keen to keep experience in our line-up. That's something we'd both be interested in under the right conditions.
“I think the particular [race] project between Heikki and Caterham had to change its format. We're looking right now to see whether another format is possible. The format we had in the last year was not working anymore."
“Let's be honest: I think we disappointed our drivers and let them down, in the sense that we under-delivered in comparison to the promises we made to them. And I think you can do that once, twice...with Heikki, I don't think we did that for three years but this relationship has been going on for three years and this sort of thing damages relationships. I think at a certain point at the end of last season, maybe there was not the sort of trust and confidence and respect - on both sides - that you should be counting on for the development of the team and driver.
“Of course he wasn't happy with the progress. No-one was happy - the shareholders are not happy with the progress. So it's about making sure we do better than that. But we are changing a lot of things back at the factory in our process, our culture...it was important to start from a different base."
Both Kovalainen and Petrov are without employment in F1 for the season ahead having left their Caterham roles.
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