Caterham crisis deepens as owners threaten exit

2014 F1 season

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The new owners of Caterham have blamed Tony Fernandes and the previous operators of the team from preventing the takeover of the squad from going ahead as planned, and threatened they could withdraw.

In a statement released on Wednesday the team accused the previous owners of failing to meet its “legal obligations” to relinquish shares in Caterham.

Fernandes set the team up in 2010, when it entered F1 under the Lotus name, before becoming Caterham in 2010.

The identity of the new owners remains unclear. Former F1 driver Christijan Albers was originally hired to run the team but he departed after two months at the helm, leaving Manfredi Ravetto in charge. In Singapore Ravetto said he was “not supposed to go more in detail” about who had taken over the team.

The new owners stated they are considering withdrawing their management team and are considering legal action “against all parties, including Mr Fernandes who, as an owner, will run the F1 operation”.

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 3rd 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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Image © Caterham/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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36 comments on “Caterham crisis deepens as owners threaten exit”

  1. The more this develops, the more respect I lose for Tony Fernandes as a professional.

    1. @rjoconnell – Wondering if it is financial circumstances or Tony Fernandes’ revenge on F1. Maybe some of both.

      1. Fernandes was asked on Twitter:
        “I wonder what @tonyfernandes has to say…. Could it be he hasn’t received payment from the Swiss/Middle Eastern investors? #F1”
        He replied with:
        “If you buy something you should pay for it. Quite simple”

    2. Hm, did you get the tweet by Fernandes saying “If you buy something, you should pay for it”

      I would not jump to conclusions about Fernandes quite yet.

      1. On the other hand, it could just mean that he is saying the new owners should own up to the debts and sort it out themselves off course.

        1. @bascb – It’s like each layer that gets peeled back adds more confusion as to what is really going on. Hard to picture how they continue on like this from one race to the next let alone for the long haul. Hope somebody steps up and takes responsibility soon.

          1. The moment it went into administration it actually looked likely they could continue until Abu Dhabi – as the current owners lodged some protest and a hearing wouldn’t be until after that race @bullmello.
            But the administrator forced the issue (probably to avoid seeing the cars disappear and more or less make caterham -the actual builder of the cars – worthless) by saying the cars couldn’t leave the UK.

    3. @rjoconnell Until the people who bought the team reveal their identities, I see no reason to place any faith in what they have to say.

      1. @keithcollantine, it was interesting to see the tweet from Formula Money / C. Reid earlier, as she mentioned a name of someone from Switzerland and

        1. Although that name is still just the boss of a company that manages trusts etc. as far as I can see

      2. It’s a financial services firm as far as I can see. What exactly do you want them to do? How do we know Fernandes didn’t leave them on the hook for the debts without agreement?

  2. What a sorry mess.

  3. These would be the same buyers who in the space of 3 months have gone through 2 “team principal”s with no apparent reason or explanation, had the baliffs round, lied about what was taken by said baliffs, are being sued by their ex-staff, and who have now issued a statement which only serves to show that the whole deal is in a pathetically sorrowful and inept mess, full of different shell companies being shuffled around.

    I am not entirely full of confidence in the veracity of their latest statement.

    1. indeed, @hairs – see reference to what Fernandes tweeted just now above. Indeed handing over ownership would likely be tied to paying (either Fernandes, or the bank who had outstanding loans or whatever was agreed)

      1. Or they simply didn’t’t know what they purchased thanks to the many opaque companies that seem to make up the caterham group. Still, I’ve been in this situation as an employee, and in my experience, investors who don’t reveal their identity are there to asset strip and little else. I feel sorry for the employees.

        1. Yeah, it certainly does not feel good if these are secret backers @danbrown180, afterall if their intentions were good, why not be proud of it?

  4. Andrea moda all over again…. I wonder how long til we have bailiffs in the pitlane !

  5. This is a sad states of affairs. They were possibly the most favoured of the ‘new teams’ when they entered in 2010 with the easily like-able line-up of Kovalainen and Trulli and looked clearly the class of the three teams.

    And now I think they’re losing all respect and admiration and turning themselves into – I would a laughing stock, but it’s not laughable, it’s just sad.

  6. No more love for Mr. Fernandes? Yikes!

  7. Sounds like the buyer has made a complete balls up of this; they seem to have attempted to buy a bag of spiders!

    Hope this has no impact to the Caterham sports cars company; I have always wanted one of those.

  8. It appears that Tony is back as team manager by default according to Ravetto.
    Sorry I can’t get the link to work but its an exclusive on

  9. Next thing you know, the buyers are gonna turn out to be ISIS – and that’s why nobody wants to elaborate. BERNIE would support them.

  10. Meanwhile, the team is drowning …

  11. Remind me someone, if Caterham aren’t on the grid next year does that mean three car teams?

    1. no. Only if it drops down to below 20 cars / 10 teams. So either Marussia, Caterham, Lotus or someone else would have to fail as well @george

    2. No. It requires 2 teams to go out of business. There has to be a minimum of 20 cars running (i.e. 10 teams). If Caterham go under, that leaves exactly 10 teams. So, lets hope nothing happen to Sauber, Lotus or Marussia, otherwise … Yikes!

      1. I’ve heard 20 cars, but I’ve also heard 22 cars. Do you happen to have a source on how many cars Bernie has to provide?

        1. Its defenitely a minimum of 20 cars @dc. Although because its in the contract between FOM and the FIA as far as I know so its not openly available.

          1. Don’t I remember one of the teams saying it would take 6 months for the remaining teams to be ready to run 6 cars?

  12. This is all very unedifying. I can’t see them being on the grid in the US the way things are going.

  13. Bernie should buy it if he cares so much about F1… and not just about the money F1 is producing for him. At least ’til a new buyers comes in town.

  14. Haha it’s so funny when you contrast this situation to a piece written in F1 Racing magazine just recently. The article paints the picture of a completely positive reboot, out with old in with new, heading for glory kind of thing. Seems like it couldn’t be more distanced from reality

  15. The buyers don’t seem to want to reveal themselves for unknown reasons.

    They sound very suspicious, as if they’re trying to hide something.

  16. Are the share certificates tied to loans?

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