Rumours over the short-term future of the Caterham F1 Team continue to bubble along, amid recent news that the team’s Leafield headquarters was raided by bailiffs who seized a number of assets belonging to the team over allegations of unpaid bills to suppliers.
The local Sheriffs Office has confirmed on its website that a number of items were “seized and removed from an F1 team”, which were believed to include a 2013 Caterham F1 car, 2014 F1 parts, the team’s F1 simulator, steering wheels, drilling and machining equipment and other memorabilia and equipment.
The items will be offered for sale to the highest bidder at a public auction that will take place on a yet-to-be-specified date this month.
Predictably, Caterham’s new management has denied the “unfounded and unsubstantiated rumours”.
The key questions of who owes money to whom and why these bills allegedly remain unpaid is all very murky. No doubt the affairs catch the current owners, as well as the team’s previous ownership.
“Paddock perception is that the team’s mysterious new owners are rather more interested in a quick profit than in the actual survival of the team.”
Whatever the case, the team will not need to return to its base for the remainder of the season – given the rest of the year’s five races are all flyaway affairs – and any critical spares and development parts can be assembled by the outfit’s subcontractors in Germany.
Team Principal Manfredi Ravetto was trying to put a brave face on things when asked grilled about the latest gossip.
“This matter is in the hands of our solicitors. There was a bailiff who removed certain stuff but this is more memorabilia than race critical parts,” he said of the latest rumours.
“We introduced this morning a new front wing. I [read] that someone is tweeting on social media that we managed to hide it from the bailiffs; this is just bullsh*t, sorry to say this. I also read somewhere that it was sent to Japan with a secret courier; just bullsh*t again.”
He added: “I agree that I didn’t provide you with a first call bank guarantee that we will be until the end of the season or even next year, but who can do this? I can tell you that I’m very much confident, but on the other side we are also realistic. We know where this team is coming from and therefore we are quite relaxed on this respect.
“The main guarantee I can give is highlighting once more the importance of defending an entry and of keeping an entry. To keep an entry you need to have two cars on the grid and this is what we’re going to do.
“Our entry is our main asset. We will do everything that is needed to protect it,” he concluded, before adding that the team was already testing its 2015 chassis design at Toyota’s Cologne wind tunnel.
That’s a claim that few – particularly in the context of Ravetto’s phrase ‘protecting the entry’ – would be too keen to believe. Paddock perception is that the team’s mysterious new owners are rather more interested in a quick profit (by stripping away the assets of the team) than in the actual longevity and competitiveness of the outfit beyond the end of the season.
Image via Caterham F1 Team