Tony Fernandes has sold the Caterham F1 Team to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors.
The team will continue to race as Caterham F1 and will remain based at its Leafield headquarters – for the time being at least – although it will no longer have any direct commercial association with Fernandes’ Caterham road car business.
Taking over the reins will be former Grand Prix driver Christijan Albers, who will step in and replace Cyril Abiteboul as Team Principal; Abiteboul is expected to return to Renault F1 Sport’s engine program, which he left to join Caterham last year.
“We are aware of the huge challenge ahead of us given the fight at the bottom end of the Championship and our target now is to aim for tenth place in the 2014 Championship. We are very committed to the future of the team and we will ensure that the team has the necessary resources to develop and grow and achieve everything it is capable of,” Albers said of his appointment.
Albers will be assisted in the role by Manfredit Ravetto and former F1 Team Principal Colin Kolles, formerly of Jordan, Midland and HRTF1 Team fame. Kolles helped broker the sale but will remain very much in the background as he is still working with the Romanian-backed Forza Rossa F1 program which is due to join the Grand Prix grid in 2016.
All up, it’s a very curious arrangement. Quite who has actually bought the team is not yet known – no details were forthcoming in the team’s media release issued overnight – but one would assume that these new owners want to avoid exposure for the time being.
That being said, it’s hardly surprising news. Fernandes had – despite very feeble denials – clearly been distancing himself from the F1 team he founded four years ago, and all signs of a change of ownership have quickly been gathering pace in recent months.
Further changes within the team’s structure are expected to be made and announced in due course, with the goal being to heavily upgrade its underperforming CT05 racer in the hope of climbing off the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship standings.
The sale of the Formula 1 team follows parent company Caterham Group’s recent decision to sell its 50% stake in the Alpine sports car project back to Renault. The sale does not currently impact Caterham’s GP2 Series team, which has not been sold as part of this deal even though the two teams share a number of personnel.
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