Caterham F1 ownership “not clear” to administrators

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: The administrator appointed to take control of Caterham Sports Limited, the company which builds the F1 team’s cars, says they are unclear about the ownership structure of the Caterham F1 team.


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Caterham F1 carmaker goes into administration (FT, subscription required)

Caterham administrator Finbarr O’Connell: “When it comes to F1 teams, you are normally dealing with one figurehead who is very much in the public eye. [However], the current owners of the Caterham Formula One team are not completely clear to me as yet.”

Caterham company goes into administration

O’Connell: ‘I’m trying to enter into an arrangement with 1MRT whereby they (employees) can stay here at the Leafield site. If I can reach an agreement with them then hopefully jobs are not at risk.'”

Caterham’s F1 future appears more secure after talks with administrators (The Guardian)

“Caterham, however, are fully expected to compete in the remaining three grands prix of the season in the US, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.”

Bernie Ecclestone, abierto a una carrera de Fórmula 1 en las calles de Madrid (El Confidencial, Spanish)

Bernie Ecclestone is in discussions about creating a street race in Madrid to take over from the Circuit de Catalunya as the venue for the Spanish Grand Prix from 2017.

Perez confident of 2015 seat (Sky)

“The only opportunity I had to establish myself in a team was with Sauber in 2012, and I want to do the same here.”

Dennis: Customer teams can’t win titles (Autosport)

“You have to start by putting yourself in a position where you have the best engine available. That is what we have done over I would say over the approaching years – read into that what you want. It is not months.”

Silverstone rocked after three directors are suspended as investigation is led into how BRDC owned circuit is run (Daily Mail)

“Silverstone, the home of British motor racing, is in turmoil after the suspension of three directors, including managing director Richard Phillips.”

Ferrari Fans Sue Facebook, Carmaker for Taking Fan Pages (Bloomberg)

“The lawsuit filed in California state court follows earlier legal spats in Europe between Olivier and Sammy Wasem and the sports car company over their ‘Ferrari Fan Page’ and a separate ‘Formula 1 Vision’ page.”



McLaren development driver Nyck de Vries will take over from Formula Renault 3.5 champion Carlos Sainz Jnr at DAMS next year. He tested for the team yesterday in Sainz’s car with the Red Bull logos peeled off but the paint scheme still visible.

The same car was previously driven by another young McLaren driver, Kevin Magnussen, when he won the championship last year.

Comment of the day

The Spa circuit owners are taking action against Nissan and Infinite over their use of the Eau Rouge brand, but they may have been too slow off the mark in protecting it:

According to the European Trade Mark registry Spa Circuit registered (made application to register) L’Eau Rouge in 2009 for clocks, watches, timepieces etc. Then they registered it in August 2013 for restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels etc… Finally they registered it on 9 December 2013 for transportation over land, water etc…

But that was after Nissan registered it for vehicles etc… on 2nd December 2013.

Looks to me as though Nissan did publicity stills of the car at the foot of Raidillon late November/early December last year, then registered the trade mark, after which Spa suddenly realised what was going on and tried to register anything they could to thwart Nissan.

Have Nissan pulled a fast one, or did Spa not predict/react well?

From the forum

Happy birthday!

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On this day in F1

Alain Prost won the 1989 drivers’ championship title in deeply controversial circumstances 25 years ago today after he collided with team mate Ayrton Senna at Suzuka.

An article on this famous race will appear later today on F1 Fanatic.

Images © Caterham/LAT, Renault/DPPI

Author information

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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65 comments on “Caterham F1 ownership “not clear” to administrators”

  1. -15 points for Caterham…? :P

  2. “Bernie Ecclestone is in discussions about creating a street race in Madrid to take over from the Circuit de Catalunya as the venue for the Spanish Grand Prix from 2017.”

    Another one? Really? Is that all we have to look forward to in terms of new tracks? Street circuits? And not just street circuits, almost certainly terrible, bland, uninspiring tracks that no one enjoys.

    Oh joy.

    1. And Spain really needs more F1 races.

      1. and Madrid wants anything Catalunya have :D

        1. maarten.f1 (@)
          22nd October 2014, 11:10


          1. nop, that would be the other way around :P

      2. I wonder if they can afford it…

    2. Exactly my sentiments. Has there been any good street track in F1, ever? Before somebody says Monaco, Monaco is amazing despite the track, not because of it.

      1. “Has there been any good street track in F1, ever?”

        Yes, Many.

        Adelaide, Melbourne, Montreal, Singapore, Sochi, Monaco, Long Beach, Montjuïc Park & Rouen to name a few off the top of my head.

        1. Singapore, Sochi, Monaco might be nice places to vist and have a good time, if you are rich, but good street circuits, you have to be kidding.

          1. Ayrtonfan (@)
            22nd October 2014, 12:46

            Adelaide was an awesome street circuit!! The drivers loved it and the city loved it. The F1 crowd now say Montreal is the ‘party city’ of F1 and say it was like the old Adelaide race- the last on the calendar and let their hair down!

            The only issue is that it was 3.78km and they lapped in 1m13s back 20 years ago- like Monaco the cars have far out grown the circuit…………… but ah the good old day of a REAL street circuit!!

            But I agree with others- enough street circuits and more Spa’s, Suzuka’s & Silverstones!! More great F1 racing and less commercial F1 deals in less than ideal places IMO!!

          2. I think they are all good street circuits.

            There all circuits that provide a challenge for the drivers, That are fun to watch drivers driving round & Monaco/Singapore have both in the past provided some good races.

            I don’t just look at overtaking (As thats not everything about a motor race), I look at the full picture, How challenging is a circuit, How rewarding for drivers is it etc…

            For me I love watching the cars inches from walls, The sensation of speed you get from street circuits & I have always loved that about them. Yes overtaking is hard, But I still think it should be & its not as if these circuits don’t generate any (There was 38 on-track overtakes at Sochi)

          3. RogerA: Thing is with Sochi is if we take a rough guess that Massa and Rosberg did 10 each as they charged through the pack, that’s 20, then in the first 5 laps before it settled there probably about 10, meaning that there were 8 other overtakes over 48 laps, averaging to 1 every 6 laps. Even if that figure is not accurate, it can’t be far off, and that is a very very low average.

          4. If those figures are accurate whats wrong with 1 every 6 laps?

            Its these low attention span ‘fans’ again who think everything is dull if there isn’t constant action every lap. Seriously I wish these people woudl go watch Nascar already & leave F1 to the real fans who actually understand & appreciate what motor racing is, Then we could finally get rid of these stupid gimmicks like DRS & pirelli cheese tyres as well & get back to proper racing.

    3. I imagine this is just a ploy to get Barcelona to sign on the dotted line…


      1. We could set up a kitty for a hit man…

        No, wait, this is a public forum. Erm, I would never do that officer!

    5. Between Catalunya,Valencia and Motorland Aragon its clear Spain is lacking racing venues,that’s if your name is Bernie.But it may be just about his usual negociation tactics in the media.
      Actually seeing this track go would be sad as it’s already a part of the legend of F1 but not that unlikely considering that with Formula 1 it’s all about the MONEY

    6. So, it’s clear Bernie wants Catalunya to find more money or agree to facilities improvements.

    7. Bring back Estoril! That place looks brilliant on the onboards

      1. The races at Estoril tended to be a bit dull after they added that stupid slow hairpin towards the end of the lap in 1994.

        1. Quite a few circuits became quite dull after they were butchered in ’94.

          1. @beneboy surely it’s still better than half of the circuits now though!

          2. I never really liked Estoril so no I don’t think its better than what we have today.

  3. Surely that all but means Sainz Jr will be going to Toro Rosso next year? Unless they place him in GP2 of course…

  4. Ross Brawn to win the brighton rally, meanwhile Mrs. Brawn is wondering why her Boxster is so slow now.

    1. Jon Aspinwall
      22nd October 2014, 1:57

      This made me laugh out loud

    2. Good one @hohum !

    3. We’ve already found the winner for a caption competition which doesn’t exist!

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        22nd October 2014, 9:17

        Agree instant caption winner!

  5. This whole Caterham situation is weird. One wonders what the exact transaction was between Tony Fernandes and Collin Koles’ social club. Was there a cash transaction or was it a drop and assume all debt deal? It is looking more like the latter.

    Barring some miracle, pretty hard pressed to assume that they will make the grid next year.

    1. I would say that the administrators should now soon give answers to that (and I would think they are going to be more or less publicly available too)

  6. That Formula Renault 3.5 looks better than any F1 car over the last few years…

    1. I was just thinking that. Gorgeous machine

    2. Just a shame that the racing in WSBR is mostly quite dull.

      They made a big mistake designing the current cars by throwing as much downforce on them as possible & by making them far too reliant on downforce than they should be which has made overtaking harder than it was with the older car.

      A spec series has the advantage over F1 in that the series can define downforce levels through the design of the car & as we have seen in GP2 when you don’t go downforce/aero crazy you can have a car thats got good performance & produce good racing. WSBR just went downforce/aero crazy & then threw DRS on to rely on that to generate the racing & thats why you tend to see much better racing in GP2.

  7. Pretty big excuse there from Ron Dennis, it’s nothing new that the works teams have been able to get the most out of their engines… I simply don’t buy that without “access to source code, then you are not going to be able to stabilise your car in the entry to corners etc.” Of course works teams have the advantage in understanding fully the workings of the engines, but there should be nothing stopping customers from developing just as good if not better settings for it.

    Even then that’s only one part of the car, surely he can’t be silly enough to think aero and packaging is worth nothing all of a sudden. There’s also nothing stopping outside-the-box creative development as we’ve seen many times this decade (double diffusers, F-ducts, engine maps to leverage EBD, etc…) Although it’s a crap-shoot as to whether the FIA will ban it or not.

    Just seems like the wrong attitude to say “now we are a works team everything will be fine.” Look at Ferrari and they’re still getting smashed by Mercedes, and nobody needs a reminder of how it turned out for Lotus.

    Good luck to them anyway. With a leaders attitude like that (“it’s so unfair, we can’t win, we’re being cheated”) they’re going to need it.

    1. Of course works teams have the advantage in understanding fully the workings of the engines, but there should be nothing stopping customers from developing just as good if not better settings for it.

      I think you underestimate the degree of cooperation with the engine manufacturer in actually making such ideas work @skipgamer.
      Sure enough, a customer team can come up with it. But the manufacturer has to implement it into the SW, and allow its use (see Williams having to ask Mercedes engine guys in their team to be able to run the highest power settings during races).
      And its quite likely that the main team would be able to then benefit as much from such developments as the team that came up with it.

    2. DK (@seijakessen)
      22nd October 2014, 12:50


      It’s delusional to think Mercedes is actually supplying equal engine software to the teams.

      What stops the teams is that the Mercedes engine techs are the only ones allowed to touch anything with the engine per the contracts signed. McLaren cannot even start that engine without the presence of the Mercedes engine techs.

      When asked at Malaysia 1999 what iteration Ferrari engine he had in his Sauber, Jean Alesi replied Monza….1998. Should be a reminder of how this works.

      1. Exactly 1999, 1998, there’s absolutely nothing new about how this works and non-works teams have won championships in the past… He’s going on about as if it’s some new revelation in regards to the new regulations.

  8. Wasn’t Bernie giving Formula-E grief for only using crappy street circuits? All he’s been talking about since is adding more street circuits to the calender!

    1. Yes. Seems to me Bernie wants Formula 1 to become Formula E, E stands fro Ecclestone…

  9. @keithcollantine It would be great to have a timeline of the Caterham mess since the beginning of the year to understand better what’s going on.
    But in the meantime here’s my version of the events:

    After the Monaco GP, horrified by looking at Marussia score their first points, Tony Fernandes decided to sell the team as soon as possible to Colin Kolles and associates, by the time of the British GP in July the deal was done and the running of the team was now completely in their hands.

    But during or after the summer break it became apparent that the rushed sale of the team had created a lot of problems, the biggest one is that there were millions of pounds of unpaid bills, I suspect this is when Christijan Albers became disillusioned with running the team and left.

    So why didn’t the group of investors just pay the bills and carry on?
    Well obviously because it’s a lot of money and they didn’t agree to it when they bought the team, but more importantly I think, because they were planning on selling the assets on the Leafield factory anyway, and run the team next year from Colin Kolles’ facilities in Germany (like he did with HRT) right now all they are doing is delaying proceedings until after the Abu Dhabi GP.

    This group of investors headed by Mr Colles will become the Forza Rossa team either in 2015 or ’16, in theory they were already granted a separate license earlier this year, but I guess there’s a reason (probably having to do with prize money) for keeping the 4 year old Malaysian license.

    The agreement that is discussed in the BBC article where some employees could stay working at Leafield I guess would apply to designers and engineers, Kolles would manufacture and service the cars in Germany and have all the experienced guys working on England just on the design of the car and its upgrades.

    And that’s it everyone, please feel free to add or correct something. Obviously the most affected by all this are the employees at the factory, by the end of November even more could be left without a job and the problem is that no one wants to give them a clear answer as to what’s currently happening behind the scenes, let alone their future.

    1. It’s like a house of cards wrapped in a series of shell games surrounded by a riddle of who owes whom and who owns what at Caterham.

    2. Hm, I would rather think that Fernandes has been looking to sell the team since early 2013 already. Maybe Marussia scoring their points did make the price hit rock bottom (as it meant it was allmost impossible to keep the bonus for finishing top 10 for 3 years in a row).

      As for the contracts, who owns what etc. I agree its pretty murky so far. One aspect that might be important to note, is that the racing licence is registred in Malaysian 1MRT. Why is this important? Malayan (do you write it like that?) law, as far as I know, mandates a Malay people/person in the top management, meaning its hard to transfer it to any buyer completely.
      And, if they want to transfer the licence to somewhere else, that means getting the FIA and possilby Bernie (and maybe even other teams) to agree as well, making it all pretty complicated and questionable what worth there is in the licence.
      That said, if the rumours of the Chinese wanting to create a national team are true, if they buy that entity, i can imagine most in F1 being ok, as it opens up a huge extra market for the sport (and Marussia might agree if Bernie sends some endorsements over)

      1. It is *Malaysian* law. And it is a Malaysian, not Malay person.

        1. Thanks – I was not sure after changing it back and forth 3 times, just let it be :-o

        2. Actually there is a term for Malay person, also known as bumiputera being of pure Malay decent. It can affect ownership of company.

      2. Lol last time the country was called Malaya and the people Malayan was before WW2 wasn’t it?

    3. What they have done is transfer all of the assets and staff to a different legal entity and just left the suppliers contracted to a shell. Basically they are trying to cheat all those small firms who supply F1 teams from getting their 15 million that is owed to them. I would not hesitate to call them crooks. And the problem is no one seems to know who ‘them’ is.
      If you enter F1 from scratch you have to go through a whole due diligence process. But there is nothing in place for buying an existing team. “Source of funds” is almost a dirty word(s). This licence needs to be revoked at season’s end and reapplied for. Not sold on to yet another bunch of mystery crooks.

    4. Let me correct myself/further comment @mantresx, @bullmello and @keithcollantine. It seems that now even Caterham, the current owners, the guys who were supposed to have sold it as well as the guys who thought they had bought it are in agreement with the administrator about not knowing who owns Caterham –

      1. @bascb – Wow, clear as mud.

  10. Fritz Oosthuizen (@)
    22nd October 2014, 3:57

    Keith, once again a fantastic interpretation on what really happened. 100% right. Almost like when Pollock bought Tyrrell and look how that team improved a decade later.

  11. For the Eau Rouge comments, and case, I must say I was highly surprised about it. Because I am pretty sure that Eau Rouge was never claimed by the track earlier because of the Spadel mineral water using Spa Red for their water with bubbles.

    1. @bascb well I’m no expert, but my understanding is that a trade mark is registered in ‘Classes of interest’. And you are quite right “Spadel” was registered by S.S, Spadel of Bruxelles originally in 1974 – but only in the Class 32 which is “beer, ale and porter, mineral and aerated waters and other non-alcoholic drinks, syrups and other preparations for making beverages” and it has no bearing on registering the words “Eau Rouge” in relation to entertainment, testing facilities, vehicles or transport.
      There seem to be at least 22 registrations of the term “Eau Rouge” or “Rouge Eau” or “L’eau Rouge” in various Classes ranging from skincare to transportation – some are expired, I admit. But there is certainly room for more in non-competing Classes like books, publications, proprietary medicines, animal feeds, furniture and lighting, industrial solvents . . . ad nauseum.
      Keith, I’m amazed you selected my anorak-ish post for COTD, but thanks for bothering to read it!

      1. @timothykatz Birds of a feather and all that :-)

      2. Thank you for looking that up @timothykatz :-)

        I think I read about the various trademarks registred and applied for a while back and understood that there had been several attempts at it in the past but both Spadel and the track / regional government had some kind of agreement to not get in eachothers way. I am pretty sure it did result in no trademark being registred, all the more because Spa red ( or “red”) is more or less considered the standard designation of a mineral water with bubbles in the Netherlands by now, which would make it hard to apply for any EU wide trade mark on that.
        (this was pretty far back, I think a case studie we read about during my studies of EU trade mark law back when I was in universtiy in the 90s)

  12. ColdFly F1 (@)
    22nd October 2014, 9:28

    I don’t like street circuits any better than the next person, but the Via de Castellana could be the longest straight of any circuit.

    1. So it’s great for drag racing, keep F1 outta there

  13. Madrid Grand Prix Street race? I guess Bernie was watching Top Gear: Series 20 Episode 3…

  14. That Infinity is clever bit of copycat styling. From the front it looks like a Jag and from the side like a BMW.

  15. F1 street racing championship?

    Seriously, looks like F1 is becoming a championship, where drivers compete in street circuits. We don’t have many of them at the moment, but already too much for me. So, all legendary circuits will be replaced by street circuits and in addition to that, new street circuits will be added, like in Azerbaijan from 2016 onwards.

    Lack of great circuits is the main problem for F1 at the moment, not the lack of show.

  16. Linda_Williams
    22nd October 2014, 12:01

    I love street circuits, Always have since my 1st visit to Long Beach in 1982 (Always go to the Indycar races since F1 left).

    As a fan there great as you can get much closer to cars/circuit, You tend to get a far greater sensation of speed & with the walls so close there a real challenge for the drivers as a small mistake could end your race.

  17. As a Belgian, I think it’s bizarre you can patent a name like ‘Red Water’ …

    1. @paeschli Well, you can copyright a name like ‘Red Bull’…

      1. Nice one :P

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