Friday at the Brazilian Grand Prix was a yet another black mark – of many recent marks – against Formula 1, as the Marussia F1 team’s administrator, FRP Advisory LLP, confirmed that the Banbury-based Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd had ceased business trading after being placed into administration on October 27.
The team’s figureheads, John Booth and Graeme Lowdwon (team principal and CEO respectively) had made huge efforts since the team’s final race at Russia to try and salvage a last-minute rescue deal, an insurmountable challenge on top of dealing with the ongoing fallout of the tragic accident which befell lead driver Jules Bianchi at the Japanese Grand Prix on October 5.
While the team was absent, Lowdon was in Austin trying to thrash out an eleventh-hour rescue deal, but he couldn’t secure the necessary funding – or meet the outrageous selling price being set Marussia owners Nikolai Fomenko and Andrey Cheglakov – to keep the dream alive. The team’s doors were closed for one last time and its team of 200 dedicated, hard-working staff were made redundant.
While Marussia did claim two championship points courtesy of Bianchi’s ninth-placed finish at Monaco – worth $90 million in prizemoney – the closure of the team will lead to a redistribution of the prizemoney, which could be a lifesaver for Sauber and Caterham.
While all of this was going on, the latter team was in a similar mess, but its administrators have played one last throw of the dice to get the team onto ther Abu Dhabi grid in two weeks’ time and make it a saleable prospect. It needs £2.35 million by Friday November 14 to contest the season-ending double points finale and grab tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship standings, which it can only do if it gets to the Emirati state.
And so the #RefuelCaterhamF1 project was born, with the aim to reward fans and sponsors with “a unique opportunity to be the driving force behind the team by crowdfunding its return to the grid”.
Starting from as little as £10, fans and companies can play their part to help and make their donation – fully refundable if the team doesn’t raise the required funds – by visiting www.crowdcube.com/caterham.
Higher-dollar pledges can also be made, and in return there’s some nifty merchandise, memorabilia and experiences on offer as well.
Granted, the team has been in a mess for much of the season – in no small part thanks to the complete disinterest of former owner Tony Fernandes and the fallout from the sale of the team to its new owners – but the essential core of the outfit is a terrific group of people who have been longtime supporters of RichardsF1.com since our very early days.
It would be a tragedy to see Caterham fall by the wayside like Marussia, and we owe it to the team and its hardworking staff to see the dream kept alive a little longer.
Image via XPG Images