Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal, Caterham F1 Team: “The Spanish Grand Prix was a very busy race for us, the busiest of the season so far. We raced a hybrid 2012 / 2013 car for the first three races of the season and then introduced a number of new parts in Bahrain on Charles Pic’s car that helped him secure the best ever performance our team has seen in pace terms since we came into the sport.
“In Barcelona we built on that performance, introducing the first major 2013 package on both Charles’ and Giedo’s cars but, honestly, it wasn’t an easy weekend for us. We’re still a relatively young, small team and bringing such a large number of new parts always presents challenges with setup and integration of the package into the cars, particularly with such limited time to test your ideas on Friday and Saturday. There was strong support from the factory, including with CFD and wind tunnel analysis, and it was a great feeling to see the whole team pulling together to address one single issue.
“We also had a few problems that cost us time in each session which meant we went into Sunday without a really clear idea of the optimum setups for the cars. We had a KERS failure on Giedo’s car in FP1 and an oil leak on Charles’ car that Heikki was in, also in FP1, and the rain on Friday morning meant we weren’t able to run all the aero tests we needed to perform.
“However, despite those issues we saw good performances from Giedo in both qualifying and the race, until he had to retire his car, and another strong Sunday from Charles.
“Giedo had his best qualifying session of the season so far and then carried that into Sunday, making a good start, passing both Williams cars and sitting right behind Button until the first stop which, although it must have been a bit of a shock for McLaren, was really good for us to see. Unfortunately he then had the problem on his second stop that meant he had to pull out of the race. We’re still not sure exactly what happened as we don’t have the faulty wheel nut but we’ll keep investigating and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I spoke to Giedo after the race and even though he’d his his first DNF with us, through no fault of his own, he was really happy with his pace and the upward trend the team is taking.
“For Charles, he didn’t have a great Saturday, struggling to find a balance he was happy with, but then on Sunday he ran another great race and finished right behind the Williams of Bottas. His start wasn’t as good as Giedo’s and he didn’t put in as many overtaking moves as he has in the first four races, but with a more aggressive strategy than we’ve used before, and good tyre management, he finished comfortably ahead of the two Marussia cars and right on the tail of Bottas’ car.
“He did make three or four attacks on Bottas and there was quite a lot of talk on the pitwall about letting him push against preserving his tyres on a long 25 lap final stint, but he’s a race driver and he just got on with his job, so that was good to see, unfortunately he also had to deal with a couple of blue flags that protected the Williams.
“Obviously it’s a bit frustrating that we still finished 17th but that position isn’t telling the whole story. Looking at the laptimes it’s clear we’ve made some progress, even with the problems we had.
“The work doesn’t stop. We’re as busy as ever and now looking ahead to Monaco next week. We run another aero test this week to help us understand more about how the new parts are working, aim to correct the issues we’ve identified at the rear of the car that’s affecting the balance and push on to a track where we’ve always performed well.”