Fernandes hints at Caterham sale, saying “F1 hasn’t worked”

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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.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.