Popular team principal Tony Fernandes will quit his post at the helm of the Caterham F1 team, according to exclusive reports jointly published in AUTOSPORT and AutoCar.
The Malaysian entrepreneur, owner of low-cost carrier AirAsia and the highly successful Tune group of businesses, has occupied the role since fronting the team’s F1 debut as Lotus Racing in 2010.
To-date, the team – which has raced under the former guises of Lotus Racing and Team Lotus, before being renamed again as Caterham – has failed to score a championship point, but has twice finished tenth overall in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
An astute figurehead, Fernandes’ reign has seen a host of multinational sponsors join the team’s ranks, and he has also worked to rebuild the Caterham car group he acquired – most recently, this had led to a tie-in with Renault’s Alpine arm to relaunch the iconic sports car badge.
However, Fernandes has since confirmed that he will step down from his role to put more focus into his road car operation, which recently relocated with the F1 team to the former Arrows / Super Aguri headquarters at Leafield. His decision has come after consultation with the group’s deputy chairman, Dato’ Kamarudin Meranun.
“On the racing side we have come to the conclusion that it is better if someone else takes over the team principal role to move forward,” he said in the interview with the magazines.
“We are definitely better at business than finding tenths of seconds around a lap.
“It was right for us to lead the team initially and set a template of how it should be. That vision is now set and the team is ready to move forward to the midfield.”
The identity of Fernandes’ successor remains known only to Fernandes and Caterham’s senior leadership, and the appointed figurehead will be revealed in due course, he added.
”I know who it will be – and can tell you that today as I had confirmation earlier,” he added.
“[But] I cannot tell you their name yet. All I can say is that they are from within F1.”
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