Yesterday, Tony Fernandes and his partners sold the Caterham F1 Team to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors for an undisclosed sum. The news comes just over a month after we revealed the entire Caterham group was on the market, with buyers or additional investors being sought.
In a statement published on the Caterham F1 website, the new owners said, “Under the terms of the sale, the team will continue to race as Caterham F1 Team and will remain based at Leafield for the foreseeable future.”
“The new ownership takes charge with immediate effect. Former Dutch F1 driver, Christijan Albers, assisted by Manfredi Ravetto, will take over the day-to-day running of the team, reporting directly to the board and replacing Cyril Abiteboul who will leave the team to pursue new challenges.”
The new owners will be advised by former Midland and HRT team principal Colin Kolles, and they will continue to use the Caterham name until such time as it can be changed (most likely for 2015).
READ ALSO: Tony Fernandes calls ‘time out’ for Caterham
Abiteboul returns to Renault in the role in a newly-created position as Managing Director of Renault Sport F1. He will report to Jérôme Stoll who takes on the role of President and Managing Director of Renault Sport F1, replacing Jean-Michel Jalinier, who Renault say has retired for ‘personal reasons’.
The former Renault Sport F1 boss took responsibility for the poor performance of this year’s F1 engine, which Red Bull Racing have been especially vocal in criticising.
Abiteboul was previously Development Director of Renault F1 Team in 2007, before becoming Executive Director in 2010. He became General Manager of Caterham F1 in 2012.
Christijan Albers, Caterham F1’s new boss said, “We are aware of the huge challenge ahead of us given the fight at the bottom end of the Championship and our target now is to aim for tenth place in the 2014 Championship. We are very committed to the future of the team and we will ensure that the team has the necessary resources to develop and grow and achieve everything it is capable of.”
You may be asking where this leaves the rest of the Caterham Group and Fernades’ commitment to create a world-class automotive brand.
We’ve approached the company several times to confirm their intentions and each time were told, “Caterham is in rude health whilst Tony (Fernades) is seeking additional long-term investment to bolster his plans for the brand.”
Selling their most valuable asset will certainly have helped in that regard, but there continue to be strong signs of a break-up being contemplated for the remaining businesses in the group. Caterham’s specialist engineering companies (composites and CTI) made redundancies last month while Mike Gascoyne was recently seen at Hingham after being absent for most of the past year.
There’s more going on at Caterham than meets the eye, while questions remain over Fernandes’ true intentions. Last week he closed his Twitter account after posting a final message “F1 hasn’t worked, but love Caterham Cars”.