Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham, Silverstone, 2014

Caterham given permission to miss next two races

2014 F1 season

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Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham, Silverstone, 2014Bernie Ecclestone has agreed to give Caterham a dispensation to miss the next two rounds of the championship while the administrators who own the team try to find a buyer for it.

Administrators Finbarr O’Connell and Henry Shinners of Smith and Williamson have agreed terms with Colin Kolles to take charge of 1 Malaysia Racing Team, which owns Caterham’s licence to compete in the world championship, as well as Caterham Sports Limited.

This means they are now able to sell Caterham’s F1 racing operation and championship entry as a going concern if a buyer can be found. Shinners said “Purchasing the assets would give the buyer ready access to F1 racing”.

“This includes the Formula One 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,” he added.

Caterham can miss next week’s round in the USA and the race which takes place on the following weekend in Brazil. Ecclestone wants the team to participate in the season finale which takes place two weeks later in Abu Dhabi.

However staff at the British-based team’s factory in Leafield have been advised they do not need to return until the team has been sold.

O’Connell said the arrangement “gives us a much better chance of being able to reach a better conclusion for the racing team and its creditors”.

“This is a difficult situation which is not of our making,” he added. “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.”

With Caterham unlike to appear at the next two rounds, the F1 field will be reduced to 20 cars, assuming Marussia return to fielding two drivers.

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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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41 comments on “Caterham given permission to miss next two races”

  1. This is good news, and at least gives them a bit of breathing space for now.

    I did have a feeling they might be let off this one.

  2. Well, it’s pretty disappointing that, for the first time since 2009, we’re going to have 20 cars entered for a race weekend.

    1. I wouldn’t bank on there being 20 yet.

  3. Is there anything Colin Kolles has done that has justified him leading a team in F1? That is, I’m aware of his history, but who in their right mind would look at his track record and say, “Yeah, he’s worth putting tens of millions of dollars behind to run a legitimate and competitive racing team”?

    Oh, maybe this was part of the resolution of him blackmailing Toto Wolff? That seems to maybe be the only thing that makes any sense.

    1. At least he has some experience, so he’s slightly better in this role than everyone with no experience. You have to keep in mind that you will soon have to train his replacement, though.

    2. Well, at HRT it was the new people taking control that sent him away, and then failed to make ends meet and drop out @helava. With Force India (i.e. Midland / Spyker) he kept the team going and more or less enabled it to exist until now, bridging the gap.

      So while I see Kolles being there as a very bad sign (He wouldn’t be called in if everything was fine), I would hesitate to put full blame on him for things failing. Its a bit like a doctor who is called in to treat a patient a very desperate outlook. Sometimes he manages to save them, sometimes there isn’t much that can be done.

      1. Fair point, but re: that and @ximaera‘s point, if Kolles is there, you know you’re in trouble. Perhaps he can manage a crisis situation better than “random”, but the problem is at this point, you can take Kolles and know your best chance is “maybe scraping by”, or you can take on someone who’s perhaps less experienced by also knows the ropes and give a wildcard a chance in the hopes that they’re the next Ross Brawn (which Kolles *definitely isn’t*).

        So, yeah – he may be able to make something of a bad situation, but it’s difficult to make a case that he knows how to even come close to making the best of a bad situation. And if you’re faced with that, and you’ve got $20M to invest, I’d much rather go with an unproven but hungry option than someone who’s proven to achieve the results he has.

        (please note that I do not have $20M to invest) :D

        1. That’s what Caterham did _previously_. They hired unproven people and, after all, they had to go with Abiteboul and, now, Colles.

          If a man with $20M asks me, I’ll recommend to hire a good team manager from GP2 or WSR. Boullier, for example, is doing just fine since his appointment at Renault. Booth is managing Marussia rather well too.

          1. Sure, and I’m not suggesting that anyone’s first at-bat with an unproven team leader is going to go super well. That’s how this works – you’ll have to fail sometimes, so you need to be responsive and understand what’s happening quickly. But again, even in this situation, I think it’s a better option to go with someone like a team manager from GP2 or WSR than Kolles *even after an option has failed*. Taking the “certain lousy result” option is just admitting you’re done.

          2. Caterham didn’t employ Kolles. Caterham were all set to close shop if no buyer was found.
            When Honda pulled out, they left Brawn with enough funds for the year and even he was forced to lay off staff.
            Caterham had debt, existing and future. They had a huge staff over head. They had no operating funds.
            The new owners immediately had to start fighting creditors at the same time looking for funds to run the operation.
            Much as I’m not a fan of Kolles, he wasn’t responsible for Caterham’s problems.
            Albers saw the mess and ran home to his family.

    3. Autosport ran a really good article about Kolles being the backmarker troubleshooter and how he kind of set Force India up for the success they’ve had so far and kept HRT from disappearing before their first race. I was with you, but that article changed my mind.

      1. I don’t know much about Kolles, but back at FI he did help control the excesses of the need for pointless aerodynamic gains. Mallya only came onboard because Kolles and Gascoyne were on opposite ends of the spectrum regarding where to invest resources. He doesn’t take any prisoners though.

      2. Ah. Interesting. I’ll have to try to find that.

    4. Well, he kept HRT going for two years longer than anyone really expected. That’s more than enough justification there for Kolles imo.

  4. And with that, ladies and gentlement, we conclude Caterham’s F1 adventure.

    1. Agree. I don’t see them making a return to the grid. They were the most impressive “new team”. They seemed to do a lot of things right especially after the “Team Lotus” fiasco: Red Bull gearbox, Renault Engine, big sponsors/partnerships and after TF acquired Caterham they had a even bigger reason to be in F1 (apart from JUST being a racing team). Sad.

      1. While I’m not privy to the sponsorship agreements, I get the feeling Caterham wasn’t selling those advertising spots at anywhere close to full price. Over at Sidepodcast’s latest “An Aside with Joe” [Saward] podcast, they discussed the GP+ magazine Joe’s involved with getting a free advertising spot on Caterham’s cars!

        It could be that Tony Fernandes pulled in favors through his Air Asia connections to get sponsors for the cars, but their sponsorships are partly there to present Caterham as a credible operation.

  5. Well, if somebody with a whole bunch of spare pocket money wants to get into F1 in time to race for double points in Abu Dhabi, here’s your opportunity.

    1. could bring a whole new meaning to the term pay driver..

  6. That’s probably it for them then. Pretty sad for the whole team and only a few weeks away from Christmas time too. I hope the staff are able to find employment elsewhere.

  7. Having read the administrator’s statement in full it says something when an insolvency specialist makes more sense in terms of taking the business forward than either of buying or selling parties who sounded like squabbling children rather than international businessmen…

    1. Yeah, because when effectively neither the seller nor the buyer is now interested in keeping it, then its best to try and find someone who is.

  8. If this is the end then it’s a real shame. Consider that when Caterham first lodged its Formula 1 entry in 2009, Formula 1 was set for massive cost-cutting actions. Fernandes had every reason to think that he had the finances to run a reasonably competitive team. And now, as Formula 1 delegates more powers to the wealthiest teams, whose chief concern is moulding the rules for their own benefit you’d have to wonder who in their right mind would want to throw tens of millions at keeping Caterham trundling around at the back of the grid.

  9. I don’t see how this can be good news for anyone employed by the team.
    They have less than a month before the final race and if we factor in the time needed to have the cars ready to be shipped to the final race, then they have maybe 2 weeks to find a buyer, who then immediately has to find the team personnel required to man the operations for the final race at the very least.
    Will that mean calling back the previous employees or recruiting new people?
    Any buyer who has seen what has gone on from the previous sale and the uncertain nature of the ownership structure of the team, leaves me to believe it will take days if not weeks to go over the paper work and find any potential booby traps.
    Of course, all these will be inconsequential if the liabilities do not form any part of the sale.

  10. Fred Schechter
    24th October 2014, 18:36

    Preposterous! No Rossi on the grid, fewer cars, and failure abounds.
    Not that they should run, just ridiculous they can’t field a proper team.

    Looking forward to Haas F1 being a real contender and actually not fearing showing up on the grid (at least 22 next year).

    As for team employees, that’s double trouble. Those poor people who work so hard now clearly jobless and locked at the gate. That sucks, because top brass can’t get their S together. Fail.

    1. If Rossi was going to be on the grid, it wouldn’t be with Caterham anyway, considering that he is Marussia’s reserve driver.

  11. Well, it’s a shame to see really. I’ve always liked Lotus/Caterham. It’s pretty disgusting that grown adults are pointing fingers at each other and sending indirect messages about the other on social media rather than sorting things out properly.

    I expect Sauber and Marussia to be in real problems soon too. Something is not right here. It does not matter how big or small a team is, to see one in this state is not good for the sport’s image.

  12. Kollies is the best. He kept HRT in F1 for 2 years longer than they would have without him.

  13. “Purchasing the assets would give the buyer ready access to F1 racing”.
    Past 2014…???

  14. I realise I may get pelters here, but I think Red Bull should take a lot of blame for this.

    There was an opportunity to come to a sensible resources restriction agreement a few years back. All the teams wanted to take this idea forward (including Ferrari), but it was blocked by Red Bull and Toro Rosso before discussions even really began.

    Now we have these small teams unable to stay afloat, but its the marussias scoring 2 points at Monaco that make F1 stories just as much as Hamilton and Vettel winning yet another race.

    I’m not asking for absolute parity between the teams, but at least some recognition from the established ones that the small outfits are still an important part of the F1 story, and we really shouldn’t be looking at 20 cars on the grid in 2014… what has been a pretty good season all in all.

    I hope caterham find a buyer and the staff can keep their jobs for 2015 somehow. For every Mercedes employee with a £10,000 bonus there’s also talented engineers at caterham that I’m sure have a great passion for F1 and want to remain in the sport.

  15. Well guys we know what this means right? F1fanatic F1 team! Im good for $1000 whos with me?

    1. Then nominate someone who will have all the high blood pressure?

  16. It’s good news, otherwise a very strange situation.

  17. “maximise the outcome for its creditors and other stakeholders.” then we all wonder why the world is the way it is. its a sad world we live.

    1. “Stakeholders”?
      Does that mean Fernandes or the Administrator?

  18. Might as well give them permission to miss the 2 races. It’s not like Ecclestone’s show is going to be affected! I wonder if they’ll adjust quali so more cars go out in Q1?

  19. Here’s a radical idea… Distribute the prize money more fairly so that the smaller teams are actually getting something worthwhile at the end of each year to help towards the following season. Its ridiculous that a sport that’s making billions each year is giving so little to the teams that really need some of it.

    How about some more. Lower the entry fee, Allow single car teams & Give the smaller teams some say over the running of things.

    Its utterly pathetic that everyone involved in the running of things at the FIA, FOM/CVC & even the teams with power have done practically nothing to prevent things getting to this point despite the fact that its something thats been so obvious for quite some time. They talk about lowering costs, They talk about helping the small teams yet end up doing nothing but talk about what to do if the small teams go under.

    Caterham will likely go under, Marussia may well follow them & we will probably get ‘some’ teams running 3rd cars & that will do nothing but benefit the biggest teams who don’t need help & FOM/CVC who will have to hand out less prize money.

    1. This is the biggest issue, the unfair split of the earnings of the sport, resulting in constant turnover of small teams, and the usual pain for everyone associated with them. If FOM was actually concerned about the welfare of F1, they would see that making things fairer for the little guy actually makes things better for the whole grid. But the person in charge doesn’t look to the future, their days of forward thinking are well in the past.

      If it becomes more financially sustainable for the smaller teams to exist, then there would be much less turnover of small teams. If they were allowed to run one car teams, and were allowed to have customer cars, then there is a path that they can take to being a successful team. At the moment, there is no way for a smaller team to make progress up the grid, so the only way is eventually out the door.

      A smaller team could start off with one customer car, become successful (by finding the right driver – which means that they will be taking on new talent constantly), get solid sponsorship deals, expand the team into a two car team (which comes with the requirement to build your own cars) and become one of the established teams.

      There would be fewer drop-outs, which makes the market for buying or sponsoring a team much more scarce (which improves the quality of backing). At the moment, every team that collapses gives an opportunity for a buyer and a raft of sponsors to get into F1 on the cheap, the sponsorship deals with backmarker teams are very one-sided in favour of the sponsor. Making the market for that scarce makes the teams more secure. This is the part where everyone benefits, because if you’re a team further up the grid, you have a better pick of the potential sponsors. With the constant churn of small teams, sponsors have the ability of getting their logo on a car at bargain prices. The fact that even McLaren is struggling to find sponsors willing to put their logo on this years car should serve as a warning sign that the current arrangement is unsustainable.

  20. I thought the running of the ‘show’ was Ecclestone’s domain, surely a team that fails to send its cars out, breaches a whole host of rules and therefore the FIA should deal. Wouldn’t it therefore follow that it is for the FIA to give any dispensation ?
    Or am I being naive ? ;-)

  21. Confirmed: Marussia will be sitting out US Grand Prix.

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