Cash crisis sidelines Formula 1 minnows
Caterham and Marussia find themselves in dire financial straits as the administrators are called in and races are missed
The future of Caterham and Marussia is in doubt after administrators took control of both teams, with both of them missing the US and Brazilian Grands Prix.
Caterham’s crisis came at the end of a week of bad-tempered press-release ping-pong between founder Tony Fernandes and the new owners, Swiss company Engavest, who took over in July. Each side accused the other of reneging on commitments that were part of the sale and purchase agreement. The end of the road – at least temporarily – came when the administrator locked up the factory in Leaeld, Oxfordshire and the team were unable to access the cars.
As a result, adviser – and de facto team boss – Colin Kolles agreed to hand the holding company of the team 1MRT, which owns its F1 entry, to the administrator as well. With the administrator insisting that the team’s creditors were top priority, Caterham pulled out of the US GP.
Shortly after Caterham’s withdrawal, Marussia’s trading company, Manor Grand Prix Ltd, also went into administration, with FRP Advisory LLP taking control. It was widely accepted over the weekend of the Russian GP that the team were unlikely to make it to the US. Rumour had it that owner Andrey Cheglakov had kept the team going only long enough to enjoy his day in the sun with Vladimir Putin in Sochi and was then going to pull the plug.
Both teams are now in breach of their contracts, although Bernie Ecclestone is said to have given them permission to miss the two races in the Americas in the hope they might make it to the nal race in Abu Dhabi.
If they fail to do so, and the grid drops permanently below 20 cars, it will trigger clauses in the contracts of some teams that could lead to third cars being run in 2015. It remains unclear whether three-car teams will be required under the new Concorde Agreement, but F1’s contracts with race promoters traditionally dictate that the sport must supply grids of at least 16 cars.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has claried his thoughts on third cars: “Red Bull could say to Caterham, you can have a car, you’ve got to run a driver of our choice in the car. You run the car. You still call it Caterham or whatever, and the idea was if that team scores points then half the points should go to the team supplying the car.”
He added that only Ferrari, Red Bull or McLaren were permitted to supply third cars.