2013 Team Reviews: Caterham

Its that time of year again. The nights are drawing in and the critical eye is out once again, as we begin to analyse the successes and failures up and down the field in 2013. Each and every day leading up to Christmas, a team will be reviewed on the blog, ending with the 2013 double Champions Red Bull on the 24th December. However, there is plenty of analysis to come before then, starting with a review of Caterham’s season…

Prior to the start of the season, Caterham undoubtedly targeted P10 in the constructors, as it was quickly realised that without a freak result, points were out of reach. After finishing behind arch-rivals Marussia, it has to be said that they failed in their mission. However, Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul will not look back on 2013 in total dismay – For the majority of the season, Caterham had the upper hand on Marussia, yet lost out in the championship as luck conspired against them.
Marussia started the season on the front foot, as Caterham had a number of correlation irregularities from wind-tunnel to track. This hampered their progress, meaning that Marussia had to make the most of their purple patch while Caterham resolved the issues – and to their credit, they did. Jules Bianchi’s P13 in Malayisa proved to be the killer blow for Caterham, as they were unable to equal this result for the rest of the season. Van Der Garde’s P14 in Belgium and Charles Pic’s equivalent in Korea was the closest they managed to come to toppling Marussia’s strangle hold of P10 in the constructors.
Once the Barcelona upgrade arrived, Caterham were well and truly back on track and result began to come. Despite Jules Bianchi’s early season headline performances, the strength of the Caterham duo from Spain onwards made Bianchi look rather ordinary for the rest of the season. The new-found performance in the car proved to be the catalyst for the rise of Geido Van Der Garde – the Dutchman steadily improved throughout the season, with fantastic performances in Belgium and Hungary in particular. Unfortunate accidents where he was taken out by Marussia’s at the start of both the Japanese and Indian Grand Prix were the only blots on an otherwise excellent second half of the season.
Charles Pic meanwhile, had a rather innocuous second season in Formula One. While he finished above Giedo in the championship, this would be expected considering his additional year of experience. In my opinion, Charles should have led the team with more authority, however, his input in regards to the car’s development is somewhat unknown. His influence may have been significant, as it can only be assumed at Giedo’s feedback during the tough start to the season would have been compromised by his own struggles in adapting to the sport. Therefore, it is difficult to truly assess Pic’s season from outside the team – their own internal evaluation is undoubtedly more accurate.
So, looking ahead to next season Caterham will be determined to retake P10 in the championship – after all, they believe that it should have been their final position anyway. At the time of writing, they are the only team yet to confirm any drivers for next season, yet it seems likely that they will retain one of their 2013 drivers, to pair up with a retuning Heikki Kovalainen. Reports that Caterham are looking for an experienced driver next season have sparked the speculation. With Heikki behind the wheel, Caterham should benefit from better feedback, improved consistency and all important experience next season. 2014 should be a better year for Caterham, yet can they finally achieve the illusive first points next season?

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