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.
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.
Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.