Tag Archives: Caterham

Caterham buyer Engavest enters arbitration proceedings with Fernandes

The first step of legal proceedings between the purchasers of Caterham F1 and the original owners has commenced.

Swiss-based consortium Engavest SA bought MRT1 – the company that owns the entry – at the end of June. However after the management it put in place had run the team for several months it emerged that the original owners had not handed over the shares.

At the same time the associated Caterham Sports company went into the hands of the administrators, who in turn then gained control of the whole team.

Engavest is seeking compensation, and has now began a process of arbitration with Tony Fernandes and his partners with a view to coming to a resolution.


Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

Caterham still finalising second driver deal, says O’Connell

Caterham has yet to confirm who will drive its second car alongside Kamui Kobayashi in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

The late revival of Marussia has seemingly caused leading candidate Max Chilton to drop out of the running.

“It should clearly be decided very soon,” administrator Finbarr O’Connell told this writer. “I’m just waiting so that I can announce what’s going to happen.”

O’Connell admitted that Marussia’s late decision to go to Abu Dhabi had taken Chilton off the market.

“I had heard rumours that he was interested in the seat if Marussia weren’t running. I wish him well in Marussia if they are. He’s under contract and clearly he would never do anything against his contract.

“He can only race one car in one team. I’m told this is possibly the latest arrival ever if Marussia come tomorrow.”

Roberto Merhi, who ran three FP1 sessions this year, signed a contract with the previous management which stipulates that he would drive Marcus Ericsson’s car if it became available.

However, while the Spaniard was given a ‘provisional’ superlicence to run in FP1s, it seems that he still doesn’t have a full one: “My understanding is that he doesn’t have a superlicence.”

Regarding the prospects of the team getting a superlicence for another rookie – such as Will Stevens, who had hoped to run FP1 earlier this season – he said: “We’ll have to wait and see. I’ve said to them all that I won’t mention their names as it won’t be fair.”

Leave a comment

Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

Caterham will struggle to ready car for 2015 season

Amid the excitement over Caterham making the trip to Abu Dhabi in order to secure its future doubts remain over the team’s ability to build a 2015 car on time.

When the previous management stepped aside work was well underway on the new chassis, but that has stopped since the administrator took over. There is now no activity at the factory as only a skeleton race team has been re-hired on a ‘consultancy’ basis in order to run the Abu Dhabi weekend.

Sources say that the chances of Caterham readying a new car in time for next season are diminishing rapidly, should someone be able to salvage the outfit post-Abu Dhabi. That means the only option would be to extend the life of the 2014 chassis.

The major change to next year’s rules involves the front chassis height, and while some teams say that they would not be able to carry over their 2014 chassis, apparently in theory Caterham can comply.

The bigger problem is that the power unit Renault is homologating for 2015 requires substantial repackaging, and that will be a costly and lengthy process.

Renault suggested to the previous management that Caterham sticks with the 2014 power unit, which would be cheaper. In addition the initial version of the 2015 power unit is not expected to be an improvement on the current one, which explains why Red Bull is so keen to introduce a summer upgrade.

However under the rules manufacturers can only have one power unit homologated, and thus the 2014 version will no longer be legal.

It’s understood that Renault and the previous Caterham management lobbied the FIA for permission to use the older power unit, and that Jean Todt said he would refer the matter to the F1 Commission and thus the World Motor Sport Council.

It remains to be seen whether that request is still being processed, and indeed what plans have been put in place by administrator Finbarr O’Connell. Any discussion of what route might be taken is academic as long as the team has no staff…


Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

Caterham confirms trip to Abu Dhabi

Caterham has now officially confirmed that it will travel to the Abu Dhabi GP, despite not reaching the proposed £2.35m crowdfunding target.

No mention has been made of drivers, and remains to be seen how competitive or organised the last minute will be.

In a statement administrator Finbarr O’Connell said: “We set ourselves a major challenge, but it’s definitely been worth it! In only a week the fans have made the impossible, possible. We knew that the best way to keep this team alive and attract possible buyers was to show that it’s still a racing team and be in Abu Dhabi for the finale, and there aren’t enough words to say how grateful we are to all the fans that have made this possible.

“We now head to Abu Dhabi ready to show what a hard-working and positive group of people this is and to hopefully secure a future for the team. During the past few days the interest of many potential buyers has increased massively and by racing in Abu Dhabi the team will be showcasing itself as a live and functioning team that deserves to continue into 2015 and beyond.

“It has hard-working people, team spirit and experience and now it only needs a secure financial future which I’m very hopeful we can achieve. Once again, I’d like to reiterate that we are racing in Abu Dhabi thanks to all the fans out there – an achievement that will go down in F1 history and one that we can all be very proud of. We still need to raise a bit more cash so please do keep an eye on the Crowdcube website. Let’s go racing!”


Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

Administrator still confident that Caterham will go to Abu Dhabi

Caterham administrator Finbarr O’Connell remains confident that the team will travel to Abu Dhabi this weekend, despite the crowdfunding total being some £1m short of the intended target of £2.35m.

O’Connell says that the team will probably go and rely on some last minute deals adding to the total. Under the commercial arrangements with Bernie Ecclestone teams can miss two races, Bernie has made it clear that attendance at the final race is crucial to the future.

There is no news on drivers, with Marcus Ericsson having withdrawn from the team earlier this week, despite having already paid his sponsorship for the full season.

“I am 90 percent confident that we are going,” O’Connell told Reuters. “In the last few days three interested buyers have come forward. They are people with F1 connections who are seriously interested and who if any of them bought it, the world would say ‘that makes sense.’”

Regarding last minute deals, he said: “If some of those things happen, we expect to be announcing we are going. If we are still a few hundred thousand pounds short, we will recalibrate up to race day to raise the rest.”

Meanwhile a source told this writer: “The staff have been made redundant but the race team personnel re-engaged as consultants to be paid if they go to Abu Dhabi. They haven’t been told yet.”


Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

Ericsson leaves Caterham and creates vacancy for Abu Dhabi

Marcus Ericsson has terminated his contract with Caterham, which means he will not be driving in Abu Dhabi should the crowdfunding project allow the team to make to trip.

In theory the team was obliged to use the Swede, whose sponsorship was paid until the end of the season. The news does at least mean that the administrators now running the outfit can take a driver with funds, if there are any takers.

Speaking via social media Ericsson said: “Following recent events re Caterham Sports Limited and 1 MRT Sdn Bhd, my adviser Eje Elgh and I have decided to terminate, with immediate effect, all agreements connecting me to the Caterham F1 team. This is a sad day as we have greatly enjoyed working with the team through a difficult and tough season.

“I wish to thank Colin Kolles, Manfredi Ravetto, Cyril Abiteboul and every other member of the Caterham F1 team for your trust and confidence in me, and for making my first Formula 1 season an educational and unforgettable experience. In addition, I thank my good friend and teammate Kamui Kobayashi for being an inspiring benchmark throughout the year, and hope to see him back on the track soon.”

Former GP3 driver Alice Powell has expressed an interest to the media re driving in FP1 in Abu Dhabi, but her chances of getting a superlicence would seem to be zero.


Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

Buyers interested in Caterham, says administrator

The administrators for Caterham Sports Ltd claim that they are talking to potential buyers for the F1 team.

Smith & Williamson have also taken control of 1MRT, the entity that actually owns the F1 team’s entry.

In a statement the company said: “We remain in conversation with a number of credible, interested parties regarding the sale of the historic Caterham F1 racing team.

“Our current strategy is to seek a buyer that will allow the team to compete in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi on 23 November 2014 and we are doing all we can to make that happen. However, if a deal cannot be finalised in time, then the strategy is to secure a buyer to allow the team to compete in the 2015 F1 championship.

“We are working with our specialist Corporate Finance team to manage the sale process and we have received several expressions of interest from parties with the financial strength to fund a F1 race team. These conversations are ongoing. We believe this approach will maximise the assets of the broader Caterham F1 team and so enable the best outcome for creditors and other stakeholders, including employees of 1MRT.”

One thing that has not been addressed is the fact that in theory entries for the 2015 World Championship have to be filed – and paid for – by November 1.

Leave a comment

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

Former Caterham F1 boss Ravetto gives his side of the story

Former Caterham F1 team principal Manfredi Ravetto has expressed his frustration at the way the problems of supplier Caterham Sports have led to the team missing the US GP.

After Caterham Sports went into administration the administrator Finbarr O’Connell took control of 1MRT, the actual race team and owner of the entry, and announced that the team would not go to Austin. Ravetto had earlier been asked to step down from his role.

Meanwhile Tony Fernandes and the Caterham Group continue to claim that the purchase of 1MRT by Engavest – the consortium advised by Colin Kolles – was never completed.

“I am quite surprised by the latest happenings around the team and I thought it was time to rectify a few things,” Ravetto told this writer today. “First of all I was asked to step back under the promise that it was in the higher interest of the team and the team’s survival.

“I was promised that the team would keep going racing and salaries were paid and so on. Now the team is not turning up in Austin and the employees are struggling to get their money, and I would like to understand where we stand.

“As long as the management group I was a member of was in charge it is absolute undisputed that three things were happening. The cars were running, the salaries were paid, and the creditors were under control.

“It’s a fact that there are 300 families who have a problem now and nobody seems to be interested in that. I can only repeat that our priority has always been to keep the cars running, to keep the company alive, and to keep the employees happy and paid. Now I am not a Caterham guy and I am not an Engavest guy, I am workforce, so I am the same as a mechanic, same as an engineer.”

Ravetto insisted that there were key questions to be addressed.

“It seems to be undisputed by all parties involved that the team still belongs to the previous ownership [Fernandes]. My first question is why did Caterham Group and Mr Fernandes release a press statement on October 3rd saying they had nothing to do with the F1 team, and the F1 team was sold?

“I’ve been given plenty of reassurance and evidence that the purchase price has been paid. My second question is even if it was not why was a new management installed in the team? There must have been a good reason for this to happen. Otherwise I would have been forced into thinking it was just an exercise in order to shift over liability to somebody else, which is something I don’t want to consider, given the high profile of the parties involved.

“My next question is are we absolutely sure that there was no option in doing whatever had to be done in a timing and a way which was not causing this huge damage?

“How come CSL’s problem interfere with 1MRT? It comes to my huge surprise that a situation that affects company A has a detrimental effect of a death sentence to company Z. I’m not saying from A to B, from A to Z. This sounds very uncommon to me, and this is always something that needs an explanation.”

Expanding on the role of Fernandes, Ravetto said: “I think he is changing his version too many times. One day he is saying the deal has not happened because Engavest did not pay. Previously he said the deal happened and I have nothing to do with the F1 team. One day he says the deal has not happened because Engavest did not pay the creditors. And one day the deal has not happened because of not having transferred the building.

“How can we run the team for four months if we didn’t pay creditors? I think this is one of the most amazing things I ever heard.

“I understand that Finbarr O’Connell is fully in charge as per his request. I must say I found it very strange that he has also asked and received control of 1MRT. But I’m happy as long as the team is surviving. I’m afraid I don’t see this happening, that’s the problem.”

Ravetto played down the obvious suggestion that the plan was always for Caterham to morph into FRR, or Forza Rossa, the Romanian-backed team that Kolles has also been advising.

“I can say that at no time was this intended to become the Forza Rossa operation. The project from day one was to keep Caterham alive, to develop it, to expand it, also to integrate a structure of businesses, maybe with the chance of selling technology to third parties, In other words to make a proper thing around the team called Caterham F1. This was the task from day one. And this is something to which I was sticking until the very end.

“Nobody can say it wasn’t our intention to pay creditors, otherwise we would not have lasted until the Russian GP, and we wouldn’t have been ready to carry on. Everything was ready to finish the season, and everything was ready to start building the 2015 car.

“I just want to see the whole truth emerging, and I just want respect for the job which has been done, which cannot be disputed, and also the people who have worked with us.”


Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

Iley lands technical director role as Caterham restructures

Caterham has revealed further details of its management restructuring, confirming that Christijan Albers now officially has the team principal role.

In addition John Iley has become technical director having previously held the title of performance director, while former Ferrari and Group Lotus man Miodrag Kotur joins as team manager. Kotur was formerly Jean Todt’s right hand man at Maranello, and part of the ‘dream team’ of the Schumacher era.

A statement from the team said: “Christijan Albers is now Team Principal, supported by Manfredi Ravetto, General Manager and Deputy Team Principal. Simon Shinkins has also joined the team as COO, as well as Miodrag Kotur who is now Team Manager. Michael Willmer is the team’s new Director of Legal Affairs and Gianluca Pisanello is promoted to Head of Trackside Engineering. Finally, John Iley is now the team’s Technical Director, leading the work being done to improve the 2014 car and the 2015 new car project.

“The team has also confirmed that it has parted company with a number of employees. This is a necessary step taken by the new owners of Caterham F1 Team whose priority is the future of the team. No further comment will be made at this time.”

Leave a comment

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News

Former Mercedes DTM boss Ungar set for Caterham role

Former Mercedes DTM technical director Gerhard Ungar is being lined up for a management role at Caterham as Colin Kolles continues to oversee a restructuring of the team.

Although he has not worked in F1 before Ungar is highly regarded within the sport. He joined AMG at the end of 1987, and after the company morphed into HWA he became its chairman in 2009, and CEO in 2012. His departure was announced in May after Mercedes experienced a difficult start to the DTM season.

With Ungar’s input Mercedes scored 170 DTM race victories, and he was also responsible for the F3 engine programme, which means that he is well known to several current F1 drivers. When he left Toto Wolff said: “Gerhard Ungar has fundamentally influenced Mercedes-Benz’s success in the DTM.”

Ungar is believed to have visited Caterham’s Leafield base on Monday.

1 Comment

Filed under F1 News, Grand Prix News