Control of the Caterham F1 Team has now been handed over to its administrators, the London-based firm Smith & Williamson, in a final bid to save the team from being shut down.
The Formula 1 team’s new management has been engaged in a public war of words with former owner Tony Fernandes, with claims and counter-claims being made by buyer Engavest and Fernandes over who is at fault for the team’s current predicament.
“Following a request of yesterday evening at 21.55hrs CET from Caterham Sports Limited’s administrators and the legal advisors of Mr Tony Fernandes’ related EXIM Bank, representatives of 1MRT/Caterham F1 Team have agreed, with all rights reserved, to hand-over management of the Caterham F1 Team to the administrator Mr Finbarr O’Connell in the higher interest of allowing the team to continue operating and preparing for the next events,” a statement from the Caterham F1 Team reads.
The administrators now face a race against time to get its freight and equipment ready to ship for next weekend’s United States Grand Prix, although it is understood that the administrators will elect to skip next weekend’s race at Austin and the following Grand Prix in Brazil a week later.
O’Connell has held talks with Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, who gave the go-ahead for the team to miss the next two Grands Prix at the administrators try to sort out the mess.
“[It is] hoped that a new owner would be in a position to race the team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix,” a statement released by Smith & Williamson added.
“The administrators have already been contacted by a number of interested parties expressing a wish to buy the team and they hope that a transaction with an operator of substantial financial means can be concluded in the next few weeks.”
Not only has O’Connell not read the Formula 1 rulebook, but neither – it seems – have much of the mainstream Formula 1 press, who all quickly jumped to report that Ecclestone had given ‘special dispensation’ for the team to miss the next two races if it wishes.
The actual truth is that, under the terms of the contracts between the teams and the Formula One group, all the teams are allowed to miss a maximum of three races and can still retain the franchise, as long as the company that signed the agreement remains solvent.
Presumably, the Administrator will submit an entry application for the 2015 Formula 1 season – which needs to be done by November 1 – and will pay the entry fees necessary, even if it hasn’t been able to secure a buyer.
With the team’s debts – believed to be in the region of over $20 million – likely to be wiped out by the administrators, the agreement to acquire the parent company gives the administrators something to sell.
That of course assumes that there’s a buyer willing to pay the right price.
Image via XPB Images