Last year's Caterham team-mates had seven years in Formula 1 between them, whereas the 2013 line-up can only boast Pic's single season at Marussia.
But Abiteboul told AUTOSPORT the prospect of revitalising the team with a change of drivers outweighed the disadvantage of the new duo's inexperience.
"I think the trust and the confidence was not at the level that is required in order to continue growing and developing ourselves and themselves also," he said of Kovalainen and Petrov.
"I think this is part of the reason why we thought it was something good to do to start from fresh with new people."
Abiteboul described the signing of Pic and van der Garde as a brave statement of intent, and hinted that they will stay on for the new rules era in 2014.
"It remains a brave thing to go for: to totally change your line-up and to have young drivers with limited experience," he said.
"It is something we decided to do so we could focus on the future.
"There are some changes for 2014 that we cannot bring forward - like the change to the V6 and this sort of thing - but if there is one thing we can control, it is to sort our drivers to have a bit of extra stability between 2013 and 2014."