Tony Fernandes has dropped the biggest hint yet that Caterham F1 Team is set to be sold following a series of cryptic tweets sent out yesterday.
Speculation about the sale of the team has been rife for some time, but Fernandes has stringently denied any claims that he was about to let go of the Caterham brand. As well as the Formula 1 team, he also owns the Caterham Cars programme, Caterham Racing GP2 team and Caterham Moto Racing team in the Moto 2 motorcycle class.
Fernandes was reported to be chasing a sum close to $600m for the F1 team and Caterham cars project last month. Despite constant denials, in the final few tweets from his account before he deleted it, the Malaysian businessman in a reflective mood.
“Goodbye all,” he tweeted. “Maybe I return. Been fun. And damn useful. Speak the truth be brave. Dare to dream, believe the unbelievable and never take no for an answer. Stand up for what you believe, fight oppression and most important enjoy life.”
However, the stand-out tweet simply read: “F1 hasn’t worked but love Caterham cars.”
After constantly denying that the team would be sold, it appears that Fernandes has finally accepted defeat. That said, it may only be the F1 arm of his motorsport interests that are sold, with this being by far the most costly. The GP2 and Moto 2 teams could continue to exist under his AirAsia brand, although plans for these are still unknown.
Fernandes has been bitten by a changing of the times in Formula 1. When he entered the sport with Caterham – then known as Lotus Racing – back in 2010, plans were being drawn up for a cost-cap that would allow teams to run on a figure close to $50m per year. Just as we are seeing some four years later though, there is a reluctance from the bigger teams to help the smaller ones.
Caterham entered the sport at the same time as Marussia and HRT, with the latter folding in 2012. Up until the end of 2013, it was the leading backmarker squad, but has since fallen behind Marussia after the Anglo-Russian team became the first to score any points in Monaco last month.
It is thought that a number of buyers are interested in purchasing the team from Fernandes. According to NBCSN’s Will Buxton, some Russian companies reportedly showed interest in Caterham, and could be in line to move into Fernandes’ office should he officially sell up and leave Leafield.
Heard rumours a few months ago that there was a serious Russian interest in purchasing Caterham F1 team. Lets see how next days play out.
— Will Buxton (@willbuxton) June 27, 2014