Category Archives: F1 News

Fernandes claims Caterham F1 buyers did not fulfil deal

Tony Fernandes has hit back in the war of words over Caterham F1 by claiming that the buyers – Swiss consortium Engavest – have not fulfilled their part of the deal.

Engavest said today that Fernandes was still responsible for Caterham F1 as he had failed to transfer the shares.

Fernandes said in a statement: “In June 2014, I decided, together with my co-shareholders, to sell my stake in the Caterham F1 team. We agreed in good faith to sell the shares to a Swiss company named ‘Engavest’ on the basis that Engavest undertook to pay all of the existing and future creditors, including the staff. The continued payment of staff and creditors was so important to me that I ensured that the shares would not be transferred to the new buyers unless they complied with this condition.

“Sadly, Engavest has failed to comply with any of the conditions in the agreement and Caterham Sports Ltd (the UK operating company of the F1 team) has had to be put into administration by the bank, with large sums owing to numerous creditors. Our agreement with Engavest was very clear: there was no legal obligation to transfer the shares to them unless certain conditions – which included paying creditors – were met. Those conditions have not been met. Our lawyers have asked Engavest several times to comply with these conditions but they have failed to engage.

“If you agree to buy a business, you must pay its bills. They have breached that promise and now, sadly, it is others such as the employees and the fans of the Caterham F1 team that will suffer if the team ceases to race. I sincerely hope that this will not be the case and that a solution can be found.”

Meanwhile Graham Macdonald, Caterham Group CEO, said: “We genuinely believed, at the time, that the sale of the team was the best route for the staff and creditors of the Company, as we felt it secured its long term future. The whole agreement with Engavest was based around a low consideration for the business, with easy payment terms so that creditors and staff could be paid.

“The buyers were made fully aware at the time of all outstanding liabilities. However, it appears to me that they never had any intention of paying these liabilities. I go on to question how anyone who was interested in the long term future of the business would appoint one of their cleaners – Constantin Cojocar – as the sole director and shareholder of the UK operating Company?

“We continue to see claims and counter claims from the F1 team which are totally unfounded. Not only have they failed to pay the creditors (and have even left our shareholders to pay some of the creditors on their behalf), but they have failed to pay us anything for use of our factory and site, or anything for the use our brand name. In short the new owners have paid us nothing and now the administrators have been appointed they want to walk away from their liabilities.”

1 Comment

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

Previous owners left £256K unpaid legal bills at Caterham

This document lists Caterham's unpaid legal bills from 2013

This document lists Caterham’s unpaid legal bills from 2013

The previous owners of the Caterham F1 team failed to pay over £256,000 in legal fees before the team was sold to a consortium in June, court documents show.

The fees represent one of a number of unpaid bills left behind by the previous regime that the new owners have had to deal with.

Legal firm Macfarlanes LLP has taken steps to recover the money plus interest in an action against both 1Malaysia Racing Team and a second defendant, Caterham Sports.

Most of the bills relate to Caterham suppliers Aerolab and Fondtech, and a legal battle with Force India over IP.

A formal claim from Macfarlanes states: “In and between May 2010 and December 2013 the Claimant provided legal services to the First and Second Defendants at the request of the Defendants or one of them.

“Between 30 January 2013 and 18 December 2013, the Claimant sent 18 invoices to the First Defendant to a value of £456,927.73 which remain either unpaid or partly unpaid A list of the said invoices is served herewith as Schedule 1.

“The Defendants have from time to time made part payments, but despite demand having been made, there remains due and owing a balance of £256,917.54.

“The Claimant seeks the recovery of the said sum of £256,917.54 owed by the First Defendant and/or Second Defendant.

“The Claimants also seek interest pursuant to section 35A of the Senior Courts Act 1981 at the rate of 8% per annum from 30 days after the date of each individual invoice in the sum of £26,794.77 as particularised in Schedule 2 served herewith.”

Leave a comment

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

Horner: Ricciardo might have retired without radio help

Christian Horner admits that Daniel Ricciardo might not have finished the Singapore GP had the full radio ban gone into effect for the race.

The Australian had a battery issue, and was told to avoid contact with kerbs – something that is still subject to the ban. However as the discussion related to a specific car problem, the FIA allowed RBR to pass on the message.

“He had a problem on the run down to Turn One after the start,” said Horner. “And then the [next] problem started relatively early, probably before half distance, where we had basically an issue with the battery not discharging. Quite a lot of management needed to go on with that to try and help him out, it was quite an intermittent problem for him.

“Some laps [the loss was] more than others, some laps would be three or four tenths, some laps would be nothing.”

Horner said that RBR checked with the FIA: “We spoke to Charlie [Whiting], we told him we had some reliability issues, and that’s why [Daniel] was told to keep off the kerbs, because that was causing damage to the battery. Which I think is sensible, it’s finding that balance with this radio stuff at the end of the day.

“From a reliability point of view it would have been a problem.”

Horner says that it’s right to allows some messages, but clamp down on others.

“These cars are so bloody complicated, there’s an awfully large amount going on. I totally support getting rid of driver coaching through the radio, that’s not the engineer’s job, to tell them to brake 10m later or turn-in earlier. But managing the actual power unit, they’re so complicated that just from a reliability and safety point of view, that’s quite important.

“I think for the show it’s good, at least we can tell him his brakes are getting hot and pull out of the slipstream, and everyone knows what’s going on.”

4 Comments

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

Fernando Alonso: “I gave back one position because I thought that was more or less fair…”

Fernando Alonso dropped from second to fourth after the safety car in Singapore, and yet the Spaniard still pronounced himself happy with how the weekend unfolded for Ferrari.

His race started with a trip across the first corner, after which he ceded a place to Sebastian Vettel.

“I made a mistake in the first corner and I went straight,” he said. “I gave back one position because I thought that was more or less fair. I was waiting for instructions from the team, on lap two they told me that race direction was OK with only one position, and we kept pushing all the race through. We were probably secure in second position after the second stop, with a good margin and a good pace. The safety car probably didn’t come in a good moment.”

Unlike the Red Bulls Alonso had to pit as he hadn’t yet used the soft tyre, and he felt that he could have have extended his previous stint, as Lewis Hamilton did before making the switch.

“With Hamilton it worked to stay out with the strategy, but he has two seconds margin, and it’s easier to open the gap with that margin. Probably we could not make it. I think the strategy was good, probably a little bit unlucky with the moment.

“But fighting with the leaders is something that we normally miss this year, so definitely a step forward this weekend. We have to have our feet on the ground, knowing that we’ve been not competitive this year. It’s not that from our race to another we will become competitive. If we are moving in the right direction, yes. Not enough probably, but I’m quite happy.”

Leave a comment

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

Mercedes still perplexed by reliability issues

The ongoing reliability problems at Mercedes have given the team a lot of cause for concern, and team boss Toto Wolff insists that everything is being done that could be done to address the issues.

Mercedes has a group of engineers focussed on improving reliability, and Wolff has faith in their ability.

“We have a great reliability team,” he said. “This is a group of people who are really dedicated to quality, and I’m really proud of their department. Considering that fact it’s even more astonishing that we keep continuing to have those issues.

“If we could make anything more to stop the DNFs, we would do it, I would break my arm again in order to stop the reliability issues! We just have to get on top of the problems.”

Inevitably Mercedes is concerned about how the eventual championship will be perceived, especially if one of the drivers suffers another critical retirement.

“We don’t want to have the spin in there that the championship was decided because one car let the driver down, so we need to refocus, and keep our heads down, and keep concentrating and finding out what we can, what the utmost is which can be done to prevent DNFs and reliability problems.”

Regarding his pep talk with Rosberg he said: “I told him that I was sorry for having let him down. We are doing this in both directions, you need to be just open and have that philosophy in the team that whoever f***s up, you need to take that on you, and he was OK. But there’s not a lot you can do in that moment. It was just important as a team member you shouldn’t be over the moon following the other car that’s in the lead, and one breaks down, you don’t want to have that. You want to balance that.”

Rosberg’s problem in Singapore could not be solved by changing steering wheels.

“It looks like it was a broken loom within the steering column, a loom that was within the duty cycle, it was not something which was going towards the end of its life cycle. It just shut the whole thing down. The only thing which functioned was the gearchange, and then the radio came back. There was no hybrid energy any more.

“When we called him in we changed the steering wheel, tried to get it going, but it wouldn’t. The only way of getting it going would have been to put first gear and high revs, and this is when I said stop. We didn’t want to have a jack flying out of the rear of the car and hurting somebody.”

“The whole thing is going out of the car, it’s going with us to the UK tonight, and we are trying to analyse it in a really forensic way to try to understand where our problems started and why it appeared when he went in the car and was just about to leave the garage.”

2 Comments

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

No team orders at Red Bull to help Ricciardo, says Horner

Christian Horner says there is no consideration of team orders at Red Bull, despite the ongoing Mercedes reliability problems keeping Daniel Ricciardo within striking distance of the main title contenders.

In Singapore Ricciardo finished right behind team mate Sebastian Vettel, and he would have gained three points had they been swapped. Given that the German still has a mathematical chance – albeit a remote one – the team let them race.

“They’ve both mathematically got a chance, but it’s a long shot,” said Horner. “It’s down to them racing each other on the track. It would be wrong to interfere with that in the situation we’re in, so we let them race, as you saw. Dan knew before the race, not just before the race, but some time ago, so he’s totally comfortable and happy with that.

“If there was a realistic chance of Daniel winning, and Sebastian was mathematically out of the championship, then of course we’ll do the best that we can for the team. The situation that we’re in at the moment, it’s a long shot. They’ve got an enormous advantage at this point. We’ll take it one race at a time.

“Both of them are still just in this championship, and both of them have taken a chunk of points out of Nico. Okay, Daniel’s conceded three points to Seb, but is that going to make a difference? It’s impossible to say at this stage, but at the moment it doesn’t make sense to interfere with team orders.”

Singapore was only the second time, after Germany, that Vettel has finished ahead of Ricciardo. Horner agreed that it was a boost for the World Champion.

“I think it’s great for Seb to have had a solid weekend,” he said when asked by this writer. “It’s good for him to be back on the podium. He’s been quick all weekend, he’s had good tyre degradation, so a lot of positives out of the weekend.”

Regarding the prospect of catching Mercedes he said: “On this type of circuit we can get close to them, but the reality is the horsepower difference that we have is still a big factor. So whilst we’ve closed the gap here, some of the other tracks coming up, Abu Dhabi and maybe Sochi, it’s going to extend again. So the key for us is the work we do over the winter, and how we come out of the starting blocks next year in terms of really closing that gap.”

Leave a comment

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

Nico Rosberg: “It was just all over the place…”

Nico Rosberg’s Singapore GP was ruined by an electrical loom problem in the steering column that in effect meant that the controls on the wheel were not communicating with the rest of the car.

After starting from the pit lane and running some slow laps at the back of the field he retired at his first pit stop.

“The toughest day for me this year, definitely the case, even worse than Silverstone, for example,” he said. “It was probably a connection in the steering column, between the steering wheel and car, but not at the steering wheel, so even changing the steering wheel didn’t make a difference. None of the steering wheel functions worked, I had no hybrid power, no DRS. The gear paddles sort of worked, which was strange, but they would always upshift two gears at a time, so I had no fourth gear, I had no sixth gear, it was just all over the place. And that’s why I was also very, very slow.

“And my brake balance was completely in the wrong place, because I couldn’t brake properly, and I couldn’t change that. Even coming into the pit stop I didn’t have the pit limiter, I couldn’t go into neutral, I couldn’t do anything. So they were going to jack me up, I have to go full speed, and then they drop the car and I go sort of thing. Then they decided it was too dangerous, I don’t know what, and we called it a day.”

The frustrating thing for Nico was that when the car was warmed up with a mechanic in the cockpit, there was no sign of a problem.

“[It started] as I got in the car in the garage. They’d sat in the car five times just before I got in, doing all sorts of checks, everything was OK, then I got in the car, and it didn’t work any more. Which is crazy.”

Rosberg was off in the pace in the few laps he did, but said he hadn’t given up: “Even then I still had hope, because if all of a sudden things had come alive, then even then I still I had a race, with safety cars and everything. Until they switched my car off and pushed it in the garage I still believed in doing a good race.”

Rosberg admitted he was disappointed with reliability: “From a team perspective reliability is our weakness, and we need to get to the bottom of today, and just keep on pushing and try and improve on that. That’s the key thing for us.

“It’s clear that that is the point that we need to focus most on, because the performance is there, again in the race today, very strong, it’s just reliability that needs to be improved.”

Leave a comment

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News