Having led F1's tail-end pack since being part of 2010's influx of new teams, Caterham was beaten to 10th in the constructors' championship by Marussia this year, and was outpaced by its arch-rival in the first half of the season as well.
Abiteboul admitted Caterham's 2012 mistakes had left it unable to prepare a proper new car for this year and too far behind to catch up.
"It started last year when the team pursued some form of technical strategy that I honestly believe we could not afford in terms of sophistication, in terms of understanding of certain processes and so on and so forth," Abiteboul said.
"The problem is that not only that we pursued that, but we pursued that for a while. So for us it was a hit for last year and a hit for this year.
"Also last year we changed factory, which means putting a stop to everything we are doing.
"We also invested more to the windtunnel because we had a windtunnel that was not capable of producing a blowing exhaust and yet we were developing a blowing exhaust.
"We were not capable given last year's season and what we had done to invest into a new car - from both a financial perspective and a time and resource perspective.
"Last year was not fantastic, no one will remember Caterham's car last year, and using it for two years... you see the result."
He also thinks the team was complacent about its chances of beating Marussia, which secured 10th thanks to the 13th place Jules Bianchi took in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
"Maybe naively we were thinking that we had enough time after the Malaysia race to recover 10th place," said Abiteboul.
"Even though it is a long season, it is a long season where people were reliable, there have been no funny races, and there is no magic in motorsport any more.
"The championship was decided at the third race, which was a bit strange. But that is life."