Category Archives: Grand Prix News

Administrator says Bernie will allow Caterham to miss USA and Brazil

The administrators for Caterham Sports, who have now taken control of Caterham F1, say that they have been given permission by Bernie Ecclestone for the team to miss the US and Brazilian GPs while a buyer is sought.

The administrators are Finbarr O’Connell and Henry Shinners of Smith & Williamson.

A statement from the company said: “In a telephone conversation today between Finbarr O’Connell and Bernie Ecclestone, Mr Ecclestone agreed to support the administrators in their wish to sell the Formula 1 team to a party with the financial strength to sustain it into the future.

“Mr Ecclestone also agreed to give dispensation to Caterham F1 such that it could if necessary miss the U.S. and Brazilian Grands Prix but hoped that a new owner would be in a position to race the team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”

Explaining what has happened over the last 24 hours, the statement said: “Mr Colin
Kolles, the previous principal of the team offered today to hand over management control of 1MRT to the administrators. Lawyers for the administrators and Mr Kolles are currently working on the paperwork to effect this transfer.

“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.

“It is hoped that any purchaser of the F1 team will take over the employees and that they will be able to recommence their work including that at the Leafield site.”

Regarding what the sale iinvolved, Shiners said: “This includes the Formula 1 licence, the racing cars, the designs and intellectual property for current and future seasons plus the workforce and all of the technical support provided to the racing team by CSL from the Leafield Technical Centre. Purchasing the assets would give the buyer ready access to F1 racing.”

O’Connell added: “We believe this arrangement gives us a much better chance of being able to reach a better conclusion for the racing team and its creditors.

“While this is a great step forward in making the whole team and assets more attractive, there is no need for the staff of 1MRT to return to the Oxford site in Leafield until a sale of the Formula 1 team occurs.

“This is a difficult situation which is not of our making. We regret any personal impact on 1MRT’s employees. As administrators for CSL, we are seeking to maximise the outcome for its creditors and other stakeholders.”

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Grosjean confirmation due “very shortly,” says Lotus

Lotus says that it expects to soon be able to confirm that Romain Grosjean will stay on alongside Pastor Maldonado in 2015.

The team recently confirmed its Mercedes power unit deal as the cornerstone of a planned recovery.

“Romain is in pole position for that place and honestly it’s a case of us finalising a few details,” said deputy team principal Frederico Gastaldi. “We expect to have an announcement very shortly. Like the technical package confirmation there has been a lot going on in the offices at Enstone, as well as the pits and paddock. It is all looking very good and exciting for the team going forwards.”

Regarding the timing Grosjean said: “Maybe we think it’s fun to keep the media speculating! Honestly, we’re very close to having something to announce but there’s no pressure on when we say something.”

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Administrator takes over running of Caterham F1

The latest statement from Caterham F1 says that the team is now being run by the administrator of Caterham Sports, and confirms that the intention is to carry on competing.

The team has to send its cars and equipment to Austin this weekend.

The statement said: “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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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