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Abiteboul named as new Caterham team principal

ESPN Staff
November 8, 2012 « Williams is back on front-running form - Maldonado | Frijns hoping to secure F1 drive on talent alone »
Cyril Abiteboul joined Caterham earlier this year © Sutton Images

Caterham has announced Cyril Abiteboul will replace Tony Fernandes as team principal with immediate effect.

Fernandes said he would stand down earlier this week following an announcement that Caterham's road car business is joining forces with Renault's Alpine brand on new projects. Abiteboul joined the team as CEO in September from engine-supplier Renault Sport, and although he will start in his new role as team principal immediately, he will split his duties with Renault Sport until January 2013 to finish ongoing projects.

"Having launched our partnership with Renault in Paris on Monday the plan Kamarudin [Meranun] and I formed over three years ago for our automotive interests has come to fruition," Fernandes said. "The strategy for the establishment and growth of Caterham Group has now reached the stage where we can step back from the day to day running of the F1 team in favour of Cyril who will be able to dedicate himself full time to the role and work closely with Riad [Asmat] to help take our automotive interests into the next stage of their growth.

"Cyril is going to be an excellent team principal. He has extensive experience in F1, he is extremely well respected and he shares our vision for what we want our team to achieve. He takes over during a season when we have not yet fulfilled our potential, but at a time when we have everything in place to help us do so. One day we will earn our seat at the top table of Formula One and he is the right person to take us there."

Abiteboul added: "I am honoured to take over as Team Principal, now combining that role with the CEO post I took up in September 2012, and I would like to thank Tony and Kamarudin for the chance to lead this team into the next phase of its growth. We have big challenges ahead of us but the shareholders are committed and behind us to help us take significant steps forward over the coming years, and one day challenge for the highest honours in F1. We have an incredible spirit within the team and that has been created by Tony and Kamarudin. This spirit, allied to a strategic vision that gives us a clear path to success, is what will keep driving us forwards and we all look forward to the day we can make the dreams our shareholders had several years ago come true."

Fernandes will now focus on his airline business while Asmat will continue in his role as Caterham Group CEO. He believes the structure of the business is now in place for Caterham to flourish both in F1 and in its other projects.

"This decision allows Kamarudin and I to focus on AirAsia and gives Riad the structure he needs to allow the various Caterham Group businesses to flourish under his leadership. Kamarudin and I will continue as Co-Chairman of Caterham Group and we now have the best possible team in place to take our dream into its next phase. Kamarudin and I will still have an active interest in our various Caterham companies, but we have now reached the point in the growth of the business where it makes most sense to step back.

"We have taken Caterham Group from nothing just three years ago to today, where Caterham Cars has the platform with Renault to take it from a niche brand into an innovative participant in the global automotive market. Caterham Technology is also integrally involved in the Renault partnership, working with Renault on the design and development of our road cars, as well as currently working with a number of other blue-chip companies including Airbus, and they are fast being recognised as a leading player in the technology and innovation fields. Caterham Composites is also in rude health, working with CTI on the Airbus project in addition to a variety of other cutting-edge programs that will soon see the light of day. In summary, Riad is now leading a group of businesses that put the Caterham name at the forefront of the technological and innovation fields across a wide range of industries."