Despite entering administration last month and missing the last two races, Caterham F1 Team has today announced that it will be racing at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Following a dispute between former owner Tony Fernandes and potential buyers Engavest, the team fell into the hands of administrator Finbarr O’Connell last month. O’Connell was tasked with finding fresh investment that would save the operation at Leafield.
In a bid to raise funds, Caterham launched a controversial crowdfunding campaign with a target of $3.7m from fan donations. With a few hours remaining, the team is 20% short of its target.
However, in a statement today, O’Connell has said that the team will be racing at the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi, and was quick to thank fans for all of their support.
“We set ourselves a major challenge, but it’s definitely been worth it,” O’Connell said. “In only a week the fans have made the impossible, possible. We knew that the best way to keep this team alive and attract possible buyers was to show that it’s still a racing team and be in Abu Dhabi for the finale, and there aren’t enough words to say how grateful we are to all the fans that have made this possible.
“We now head to Abu Dhabi ready to show what a hard-working and positive group of people this is and to hopefully secure a future for the team. During the past few days the interest of many potential buyers has increased massively and by racing in Abu Dhabi the team will be showcasing itself as a live and functioning team that deserves to continue into 2015 and beyond.
“It has hard-working people, team spirit and experience and now it only needs a secure financial future which I’m very hopeful we can achieve. Once again, I’d like to reiterate that we are racing in Abu Dhabi thanks to all the fans out there – an achievement that will go down in F1 history and one that we can all be very proud of.
“We still need to raise a bit more cash so please do keep an eye on the Crowdcube website. Let’s go racing!”
Caterham is now in line for a $40m windfall by moving above Marussia in the constructors’ championship by virtue of the Anglo-Russian team’s closure ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Questions about the team’s potential driver line-up for the race do remain, though. Regular driver Marcus Ericsson cut all ties with the Leafield operation earlier this week ahead of his move to Sauber for 2015, and given the financial nature of this attempt to make the grid, it would most probably be a case of the seat going to the highest bidder. Kamui Kobayashi does remain contracted to the team, though.
After appearing to have no kind of future just one week ago, Caterham now looks set to make a sensational return to Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
UPDATE 11:15a ET – Caterham has also extended the deadline for making donations to its crowdfunding project.
“The Caterham F1 Team is delighted to announce that it will be racing at the final Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi on 23rd November thanks to the support of the fans, who have helped the team raise enough money,” a statement on the crowdfunding page reads. “But you can still support the team and get involved. The deadline has been extended to midnight (GMT) Sunday 23rd November.”