Caterham F1 Team announces it will race in Abu Dhabi

5 Comments

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.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.