Caterham owner Tony Fernandes has been forced to deny recent claims that he is putting his Formula 1 team up for sale.
The Leafield outfit continues to languish at the back of the grid in its fifth year of operation, having failed to score a single points-paying finish. Last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix saw their chief rivals, Marussia, finally break their points duck after Jules Bianchi finished in ninth place.
Frustratingly, Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson came oh so close on the street circuit, finishing in eleventh place to equal the team’s best ever race finish.
Heading into the pre-season, Fernandes had indicated that his deep pockets were beginning to run empty, claiming he was no longer prepared to bankroll the team unless it started making serious progress.
“My message to everyone is we have to go for it this year,” he said in January. “This is it – the final chance.
“If we’re at the back I don’t think I will carry on. Nothing is set in stone, but after five years with no points there is a limit to one’s patience, money, motivation, etc. It’s an important year. I need to feel like we’re going somewhere.
“If I feel we can compete, then great, but if we’re not then we have to seriously examine ourselves and ask ‘does this make sense?’ If we’re two seconds behind everybody else, then we haven’t made any progress.”
Unfortunately its CT05 racer is proving even less competitive than its predecessor, prompting rumours in Fernandes’ homeland, Malaysia, that the team is on the market for £350 million.
Fernandes and co-chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun were forced to issue a statement to address the speculation on behalf of the Caterham Group, the parent company of the F1 team and the car brand.
“The Caterham Group is not for sale,” the statement reads.
“We love what we build and we are always looking for further investment. This is no different to how we started AirAsia. Yes, we are constantly challenging ourselves and making decisions on everything from the structure to projects within the Group. That is normal business.
“That does not mean we are selling. It is, however, true that the Group is actively searching for additional investment as it seeks to fulfill ambitious plans to develop.”
That’s not exactly a denial that he wants to sell the Formula 1 team. Rather, he’s simply echoed the truth: the parent company is not for sale and nor was it ever being considered. That doesn’t stop Fernandes from offloading an unprofitable and extremely expensive Formula 1 team in the meantime…
Image via XPB Images