Caterham’s return in Abu Dhabi fails to produce a big result

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ABU DHABI – Caterham’s return for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix failed to produce a big result, but simply getting to the finish line at Yas Marina Circuit was a considerable achievement for the team at the end of a tough year.

After entering administration after the Russian Grand Prix, Caterham failed to race in the United States and Brazil, but made a sensational and surprising return in Abu Dhabi when enough fresh investment was found following a crowdfunding project.

Chief adminstrator Finbarr O’Connell was at Yas Marina all weekend in full Caterham gear, effectively taking up the role of team principal as he tries to find a new buyer for the operation.

Any hopes of moving above Marussia, which folded earlier this month, in the constructors’ championship were dashed on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, though, as Kamui Kobayashi retired from the race on lap 42.

However, F1 debutant Will Stevens did see the flag, which must be noted as a considerable achievement in light of the team’s struggles in recent months.

“We completed the objective of the day, and that was to finish the race, which is good not only for me but also for the team – we can be pleased,” Stevens said. “I struggled quite a bit during my first stint on the option tire, trying to keep it up to temperature at the start during the formation lap, so I had a lot of graining on the front.

“But the middle stint wasn’t too bad and I was able to get into more of a rhythm. Towards the end I was feeling good in the car and it feels really good to have completed my first Formula 1 race!

“I want to thank all the fans once again for giving this team another chance to race, this is where we belong.”

Caterham now enters the winter looking for further investment and a possible buyer to keep the team afloat. 2014 was meant to be the big breakthrough year at Leafield, but it will not be remembered fondly due to the financial problems that blighted its best intentions.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”