O’Connell confident Caterham can find a buyer

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ABU DHABI – Caterham administrator Finbarr O’Connell remains confident that a buyer can be found for the ailing Formula 1 team after managing to return to the grid for this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi.

Following a dispute between former owner Tony Fernandes and a group of potential buyers called Engavest, Caterham entered administration following the Russian Grand Prix, failing to race in the United States or Brazil.

O’Connell was appointed as the team’s administrator, and quickly began to work on securing a future for the team by securing fresh investment. Controversially, a crowdfunding project was launched, asking fans for donations to try and save the team.

Remarkably, enough investment was found to allow Caterham to race in Abu Dhabi this weekend, returning to the grid with Kamui Kobayashi and young British driver Will Stevens.

Speaking at yesterday’s FIA team principals’ press conference, O’Connell said that he was pleased to have got the team back on its feet, and revealed that he is in talks with a number of potential buyers.

“I’ve got a number of people who could acquire,” O’Connell said. “It’s just persuading people to make that decision. It’s a huge acquisition decision because of everything. Everybody knows what you have to do, those budgets you have to meet etc.

“But we have people who could do it and with the achievements we’ve had up until now I really hope and believe we’re going to get there.

“I’m talking to a number of people who have got different interests. I’m talking to some people who are interested in making a decision in the next few weeks and if that happens, they can take over the team as it currently stands. The employees have all kept together, they’ve all been made redundant.

“Even though they’ve been made redundant, it meant they are absolutely fantastic people. They’ve come here to showcase the team and between themselves, 120 of them have all agreed that they will come back and work for any purchaser. So one option is, in the next few weeks, that something like that happens.

“I’m also talking to people who are interested in the facilities, in the building, in the facilities we have and in looking at a longer strategy, whereby they would use that as the basis for beginning a new team, and that team, clearly would look for a new racing licence in the future.”

Following Marussia’s demise and eventual closure earlier this month, the pressure will be on Caterham to keep itself going and try to maintain the grid at 20 cars for the 2015 season.

F1: Valtteri Bottas urges Lewis Hamilton to clear up Mercedes future and sign

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MONACO (AP) — Valtteri Bottas is urging Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to sign a new contract, even though his own future is uncertain.

Bottas needs to convince Mercedes to give him a new deal for next year. Hamilton, meanwhile, is stalling on signing a new one even though an offer is in place. Hamilton was again asked about his contract situation on Wednesday, and maintains he’s in no hurry.

“There isn’t any sticking point. There just hasn’t been any rush,” Hamilton said. “There’s no discussion with anybody else, there’s no consideration for anybody else, it’s just (me) taking my time.”

But Bottas would like Hamilton’s future cleared up.

“For sure I would. First of all, I would like to stay here. That is my goal for the long term. It would be nice if Lewis wants to stay and finds an agreement,” Bottas said at the Mercedes motorhome. “I enjoy working with him, I enjoy the challenge he gives me. I enjoy the fact he’s four-time world champion and at the moment I’m none. It makes me try harder to be better.

“It wouldn’t change my mind that I want to stay here, but I think we work well together,” he added.

Last season was their first together. Bottas was drafted in from Williams as an emergency replacement after Nico Rosberg retired. He won three races but he stood out more as the ideal support driver as Hamilton reclaimed the F1 title.

Bottas understands Mercedes expects improvement.

“We had a chat before the season and naturally we expect performance gains compared to last year, being closer to Lewis,” Bottas said. “That’s what you need to do in the second season.”

However, Bottas says he has not been set a specific target in terms of points or where he finishes overall.

“There’s no magic number,” he said. “There’s no clause or anything, so it’s how the team feels I’m performing.”

Bottas finished third overall last year behind Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton.

He is in the same overall position – 20 points behind Vettel and 37 adrift of Hamilton – heading into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The Finnish driver would be closer if not for a dramatic finish at the Azerbaijan GP last month. With victory seemingly guaranteed, he sustained a tire puncture and ended up with no points. He bounced back with a fine drive for second place in Spain two weeks ago.

“I feel like I’ve met my performance targets. Pace-wise I’m on the level I need, but result-wise I’m not happy,” Bottas said. “It’s been strange. But I know if I keep improving very good things will come.”

He has faced a considerable amount of criticism with observers questioning whether he can compete at the top level. Yet driving under the constant pressure of having a point to prove has also made him more resilient.

“For sure it makes you tougher and better,” he said. “From each difficult weekend, I feel I’ve been able to turn it (around).”