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Frustrated Caterham buyer threatens legal action against Fernandes

Caterham F1 has issued a statement explaining that the previous owners have not officially transferred their shares to the buyers, who are represented by Colin Kolles and the new management that took over the team shortly before the British GP.

The news comes after Caterham Sports, a company associated with the team, went into administration. The new owners claim that they are funding the team while not having legal title to it, and are now threatening legal action against Tony Fernandes and his associates.

The team said today: “On 29 June 2014, Caterham Enterprises Ltd, Caterham (UK) Ltd and Sheikh Mohamed Nasarudin (Seller) and their shareholders Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Bin Meranun entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Engavest SA (Buyer) with regards to 1Malaysia Racing Team Sdn Bhd/Caterham F1 Team.

“Since the date of the Agreement, the Seller has refused to comply with its legal obligations to transfer their shares to the Buyer. The Buyer has been left in the invidious position of funding the team without having legal title to the team it had bought. This is in total contradiction to the Seller’s press release of 3 October 2014 which stated that Mr Fernandes and his Caterham Group had no longer any connection with the Caterham F1 Team.

“The administrators of Caterham Sports Limited have been appointed on behalf of Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Berhad (Exim), a creditor of Mr Fernandes and the Caterham Group. The Buyer has no connection with Exim. Caterham Sports Ltd was a supplier company to the Caterham F1 Team. Very regrettably, the administrators’ appointment has had devastating effects on the F1 Team’s activities. Since their appointment, the administrators have released various press statements which have been severely detrimental to the management of the Caterham F1 team.

“After three months of operating the Caterham F1 Team in good faith, the Buyer is now forced to explore all its options including the withdrawal of its management team. Lawyers have been instructed by the Buyer to bring all necessary claims against all parties, including Mr Fernandes who, as an owner, will run the F1 operation.”

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Sam Michael to leave McLaren and F1

McLaren has confirmed that sporting director Sam Michael is to leave the team at the end of the season and return with his family to his native Australia.

Michael tendered his resignation back in March, and a team source says it was “reluctantly accepted” by Ron Dennis. It’s been stressed that this is a personal decision by Michael, who has two children.

The 43-year-old worked briefly on the domestic racing scene while still an engineering student, before travelling to Europe in 1993. Since then he has worked with Lotus, Jordan, Williams and McLaren.

He will attend the remaining races of this season.

Meanwhile McLaren has categorically denied suggestions in Italy that COO  Jonathan Neale and technical director Tim Goss are also leaving the company.

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Brawn and Domenicali join FIA’s Bianchi accident investigation

Ross Brawn, Stefano Domenicali and Emerson Fittipaldi are among the members of the FIA Accident Panel which has been formed to investigate the Jules Bianchi incident in Suzuka.

As previously announced, the Panel will be led by Peter Wright, who is Chairman of the FIA Safety Commission.

The FIA said today that “the group will carry out a full review of the accident to gain a better understanding of what happened, and will propose new measures to reinforce safety at circuits, with recommendations to be made for the FIA President. The work of the group will start this week and a full presentation of its findings is to be made at the next meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on 3 December 2014 in Doha, Qatar.”

In addition to Wright the full composition of the Panel, as outlined by the FIA, is as follows:

Ross Brawn, former Team Principal of Mercedes F1 Team, Brawn Grand Prix and former Technical Director of Scuderia Ferrari

Stefano Domenicali, former Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari

Gerd Ennser, Chief Stewards’ representative

Emerson Fittipaldi, President of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, F1 Steward

Eduardo de Freitas, WEC Race Director

Roger Peart, President of the Circuits Commission, President of the ASN of Canada, F1 Steward

Antonio Rigozzi, Advocate, Judge at the International Court of Appeal of the FIA co-opted by the teams

Gérard Saillant, President of the FIA Institute and President of the Medical Commission

Alex Wurz, President of the GPDA, drivers’ representative

 

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Hulkenberg to stay with Force India in 2015

Nico Hulkenberg will remain at Sahara Force India in 2015, the team confirmed today.

Hulkenberg rejoined the team this season after one year with Sauber, and he has been a consistent point scorer.

Everybody in the team is delighted to see Nico remain a Sahara Force India driver for next season,” said team boss Vijay Mallya. “We rate him very highly and he has done a tremendous job this year by consistently picking up crucial championship points. We know him extremely well: he’s a true racer and he knows how to motivate the team. I am convinced he is one of the best talents on the grid and I am proud that he will continue to race in the colours of Sahara Force India.”

It’s good to confirm my plans for next season,” said Hulkenberg. “This is a team I know extremely well and we’ve enjoyed a great year together with some special results. The team has big ambitions and I believe we can have a competitive package once again next year. We have a strong partner in Mercedes and everyone in the team is motivated and hungry for more success. I have a good feeling for 2015 and there is a lot to be excited about as we try to build on the results we have achieved this year.”

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Marussia responds to allegations about Bianchi’s speed

Marussia has issued a statement responding to what it calls “isolated media reports” about Jules Bianchi’s accident in Suzuka, and which referred to his speed under double waved yellow flags.

This is what the team says:

During the course of Tuesday 14 October, a number of media reports emerged suggesting:

1) that Jules Bianchi did not slow down under the double waved yellow flags shown after Adrian Sutil had spun off in the wet conditions

and

2) that the team urged Jules to go faster during the double waved yellow flag period in order to keep Marcus Ericsson behind.

The Marussia F1 Team is shocked and angered by these allegations. At a time when its driver is critically ill in hospital, and the team has made clear that its highest priority is consideration for Jules and his family, it is distressed to have to respond to deeply upsetting rumours and inaccuracies in respect of the circumstances of Jules’ accident. However, given that these allegations are entirely false, the team has no alternative but to address these.

Regarding point 1, Jules did slow down under the double waved yellow flags. That is an irrefutable fact, as proven by the telemetry data, which the team has provided to the FIA. In the FIA press conference which took place in Sochi on Friday 10 October, Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s Race Director, confirmed that the team had provided such data, that he himself had examined this data and that Jules did slow.

Regarding point 2, an audio copy of the full radio transmission between Jules and the team, and also a written transcript thereof, were provided to the FIA. It is quite clear from the transmission and the transcript that at no point during the period leading up to Jules’ accident did the team urge Jules to drive faster or make any comments suggesting that he should do so.

The team sincerely hopes that, having clarified these facts, it can now avoid any further distractions to its primary focus at this time, which is providing support for Jules and his family.

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McLaren line-up will be announced before end of season, says Boullier

McLaren boss Eric Boullier says that the team is still on course to announce its drivers for 2015 before the end of this season.

Meanwhile Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen remain in limbo until that decision is confirmed.

“I hope to sort out our decision and driver line-up before the end of the season,” said Boullier. “It’s true that it takes a bit more time than maybe we would have let’s say dealt with, but it’s still on course to be announced and sealed before the end of the season.”

Meanwhile Boullier accepts that life is difficult for the current drivers, and especially Button.

“I understand obviously that he may not feel comfortable, and obviously he’s concerned about his future. I’m in charge of McLaren Racing and we have to build the best for the team. Drivers are obviously very important in the discussion, and Jenson is more than considered to stay with us for the long term. But we are still investigating what we want to do with our driver line-up, once we have all the data in our hands.”

Boullier says the decision is not affected by recent good results from Jenson: “We know the value of Jenson, and we know he is a World Champion class driver, and he has been a World Champion already, so we don’t need him to deliver an extra job on track to let’s say save his job.”

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Bianchi still critical but stable, says Marussia

Marussia has issued a further statement on Jules Bianchi today, in conjunction with the Frenchman’s family. He remains in a critical but stable condition, and the family has made it clear that messages of support have been a great comfort.

The statement read: “The past nine days have been extremely difficult for Jules and his family. As a consequence of the accident at Suzuka, a number of medical challenges have needed to be overcome and the situation remains challenging due to the diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury Jules has sustained.

“Jules remains in a critical but stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit of Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi. The Bianchi family continue to be comforted by the thoughts and prayers of Jules’ many fans and the motor sport community. In particular, the many demonstrations of support and affection during the course of the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi were of enormous comfort to Jules’ parents and the relatives and friends also present at the hospital.

“The family will provide further medical updates when appropriate.”

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