Ferrari to separate from Fiat/Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler has announced plans to spin off Ferrari into a separate company.

A 10% shareholding will be sold via an IPO, with the rest distributed to existing FCA shareholders.

The news was announced by FCA CEO and new Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne.

He said: “Following our acquisition of the minority interest in Chrysler earlier this year, the transformation of Fiat and Chrysler into FCA was completed earlier this month with our debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

“As we move forward to secure the 2014-2018 Business Plan and work toward maximizing the value of our businesses to our shareholders, it is proper that we pursue separate paths for FCA and Ferrari.”

FCA chairman John Elkann added: “Coupled with the recent listing of FCA shares on the NYSE, the separation of Ferrari will preserve the cherished Italian heritage and unique position of the Ferrari business and allow FCA shareholders to continue to benefit from the substantial value inherent in this business.”

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Administrators trying to save Marussia

Marussia now formally gone into administration as attempts continue to save the Banbury-based team.

Geoff Rowley and Geoff Carton-Kelly, partners of FRP Advisory LLP, have been appointed joint administrators of Manor Grand Prix, the company behind the team.

The team was always facing a deadline related to the Russian GP. Owner Andrey Cheglakov wanted to see a car on the grid at his home race, but had tired of underwriting the running costs of the team.

One key to the future is the question of whether the team still has a Ferrari contract. Sources told this writer in Sochi that that might no longer be the case.

Rowley explained: “Whilst the team has made significant progress during its relatively short period of operation, the highlight of which included securing two constructors championship points in the current F1 season, the position remains that operating a F1 team requires significant ongoing investment.

“With the existing shareholder unable to provide the required level of funding, the senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment to the team to secure its long term future, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available. Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place the Company into administration.

“With the Marussia F1 Team now in administration, the joint administrators have assessed that, given the current financial circumstances of the Group, it is not viable for the Marussia F1 Team to participate in the next race, the 2014 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, due to take place this weekend in Austin, Texas.”

The comment regarding the existing shareholder would seem to be a little ungracious given that sources have told this writer that Cheglakov has pumped £185m into the team.

Regarding the future, Rowley said: “The Company will continue to operate while the joint administrators assess the longer term viability of the Company in its present form.

“Following Austin, there are two further rounds of the 2014 championship remaining, in Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi, and the team’s participation in those races will depend on the outcome of the administration process and any related negotiations with interested parties in what is a very limited window of opportunity.

“No redundancies have been made following the Company’s entering into administration and all staff have been paid in full to the end of October. The ongoing staff position will however be dependent on whether the Company can secure new investment in the limited time available.

“We remain highly focused on engaging with interested parties.”


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FIA could change US GP qualifying format for 18-car entry

The FIA has the option to change the format of qualifying to reflect the 18-car entry that it is expected in Austin next weekend, with both Caterham and Marussia failing to make the trip.

Currently six cars are eliminated in both Q1 and Q2. With an 18-car field that would mean that only two cars would be bumped out in Q1 – and with Sebastian Vettel having already stated that he will sit out qualifying due to a power unit change guaranteeing a pitlane start, in reality we could see only one car bumped in Austin.

However, the FIA Sporting Regulations include the provision for changing the number of cars that are eliminated. The numbers specifically referred to are eight for a 26-car entry, and seven for a 24 car entry. It follows that with an 18-car entry four cars would be bumped from Q1 and Q2.

The regulations refer to the size of the ‘championship’ entry rather than that for an individual race. However sources confirm that once the stewards have officially been notified that only 18 cars are in the Austin field they will have the option to decree that four cars are eliminated in Q1 and Q2.


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Ecclestone says Marussia and Caterham will skip US GP

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that both Caterham and Marussia will miss the US GP – leaving a field of just 18 cars.

Speaking to Reuters, Ecclestone said: “Neither of those two teams are going to go to America.”

Freight was due to embark to Austin today, and missing the US race will mean missing Brazil as well. It remains to be seen whether either team can survive the current crisis and make it to Abu Dhabi.

While the focus all week has been on the future of Caterham, main rivals Marussia have been facing similar financial difficulties, and the situation has obviously been made more complex by the Jules Bianchi accident.

It’s long been rumoured that Marussia investor Andrei Cheglakov wanted to see a car on the grid for the first Russian GP, and thereafter he would cut off his funding.

It’s understood that under what used to be called the Concorde Agreement teams can skip three races, so in theory both could miss the rest of the season and still survive in some form next year.


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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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