A changing in ownership of the Caterham F1 Team could be confirmed within a matter of days, with speculation over the team’s future fueled once more after team owner Tony Fernandes shut down his widely-followed Twitter account, but not before admitting that “F1 didn’t work”.
While Fernandes had indicated at the start of the 2014 season that he was no longer prepared to just make up the numbers at the back of the field following four seasons without a single points’ finish, his green cars are once again mired at the bottom of the standings.
Fernandes has publicly indicated he would consider selling the team if it continued to remain uncompetitive, having become increasingly concerned about the sport’s ever-spiraling costs.
After handing over the day-to-day control of his F1 team late last year to former Renault man Cyril Abiteboul, Fernandes – who also heads up the AirAsia group and owns the Queens Park Rangers football team – has been an increasingly invisible figure at Grands Prix. To the surprise of few in the paddock, he didn’t even bother attending his team’s home Grand Prix in Malaysia in late March, suggesting his heart (and wallet) were no longer in it.
Conjecture over the team’s future peaked at the Monaco Grand Prix – where fellow cellar-dwellers Marussia broke through for their first points’ finish – following which Fernandes and co-chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun were forced to issue denials that they were looking to offload the team.
They claimed that the team’s parent company, the Caterham Group, wasn’t for sale. That did nothing to stop the speculation about the F1 team itself, and their PR-speak was subsequently debunked with the announcement barely two weeks ago that Caterham had sold its 50% stake in its joint-venture partnership with Renault to revive the Alpine sports car badge.
It therefore seems unlikely that the Caterham F1 Team will remain – at least under its current name or ownership – for much longer.
The identity of the new buyer is not yet known, although the deal is not connected with either of the new F1 projects – Gene Haas’ new team or the Forza Rossa concern from Romania – which will join the F1 grid in 2016.
As part of the changes, it is expected that Caterham’s current team principal Cyril Abiteboul will be rehired by Renault Sport F1 while a new management structure will be ushered in to replace him.
Image via XPB Images