Reports in the Malaysian media have emerged suggesting that Caterham F1 Team owner Tony Fernandes has put the team up for sale along with the Caterham Cars company.
Fernandes, who also owns the airline company AirAsia and English soccer club Queens Park Rangers, entered Formula 1 with Caterham – then known as Lotus Racing – at the beginning of 2010.
However, since then, no points have been scored, with a best result of 11th place coming at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. So far in 2014, Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson have trailed behind nearest rivals Marussia in the battle for 10th place in the constructors’ championship, which brings with it serious financial benefits.
Earlier this year, Fernandes said that if the team did not start to move up the grid in 2014, he would look to sell the outfit. “If we’re at the back I don’t think I’m going to carry on,” he explained. “Nothing is set in stone but after five years with no points there is a limit to one’s patience, money, motivation, etc, so it’s an important year.”
Now, according to business publication The Edge Malaysia, he has made the first step towards selling the Caterham brand.
Fernandes has reportedly put Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Cars Ltd. – the sports car division of the brand – up for sale for a combined price of $589m.
Quite what this would mean for the team and its staff is unclear. A number of brands have expressed an interest in entering Formula 1, with Honda thought to be considering a support team for McLaren, whom it will power in 2015.
Another potential buyer could be NASCAR team owner Gene Haas. The American has gained a berth for Haas Formula on the F1 grid for 2015 or 2016, and although he has underlined his desire to start a team from scratch, another option could be buying an existing operation and its facilities.
However, the involvement of Caterham Cars in the sale could make him think twice about this. Also, it could make possible relationships with Ferrari and Dallara, two Italian companies, more difficult given that the team is run from Leafield in England.
The team is yet to comment on these rumors. For today’s Monaco Grand Prix, Kamui Kobayashi will start from P20 on the grid, and Marcus Ericsson will start from the pit lane after being penalized by the stewards.