Although Caterham has been given approval by the FIA to miss the next two Formula One grands prix at Austin and Brazil due to ongoing financial difficulties, the representative for the administrator who has taken control of the team's assets, Finbarr O'Connell, says that the team is more valuable if they keep racing.
Team principal Colin Kolles agreed today to hand over control of 1MRT (the entity which has the license to participate in F1) to the administrators Smith & Williamson, of which O'Connell is a representative. Smith & Williamson has already taken control of beleaguered supplier Caterham Sports Limited, who supplies the team with cars and parts.
For the administrators to want the team to keep racing while it is up for sale makes perfect sense. It's one thing to buy the assets of a shuttered race team, but it's a much easier task to come in to an operational team instead of having to start everything back up again. In an interview with Sky Sports, O'Connell stated:
The assets I've got are worth much more if Caterham is racing, so we all need to make it happen. I think it comes down to money.
I have a huge vested interest in the cars going and racing, so I really want that to happen. But I cannot let the creditors of Caterham Sports Limited pay for it. I think those people who want to go and race have to pay to go and race.
Tony Fernandes recently sold the team to Swiss company Engavest, however, Fernandes claims that he was never paid for the sale. This trend of not paying for things has lead Caterham to have assets seized by bailiffs and most recently, to be locked out of their own headquarters.
O'Connell is doing everything within his power to help Caterham F1 stay on the grid, including asking both the team and Bernie Ecclestone for help. "Bernie has come out in the news saying that he wants to try to make this work; I need to make it work," claims O'Connell.
"I've been in talks with the Formula 1 team yesterday. I reached out to them overnight; I've reached out to Bernie Ecclestone to see if he can help, to get some resolution here," said O'Connell in his interview with Sky. "Time is running short; I need them to contact me."
However, it is up to Caterham's ownership, not the administrators, to come up with the funds to keep Caterham racing.
Unfortunately for those of us who'd like to see Caterham make the grid, it is looking far more likely that they will join Super Aguri and Arrows in the list of Leafield-based teams who fail to make the grid for the end of the season.
A new buyer will hopefully come along shortly. Per the press release from administrators Smith & Williamson:
The administrators have already been contacted by a number of interested parties expressing a wish to buy the team and they hope that a transaction with an operator of substantial financial means can be concluded in the next few weeks.
It is hoped that any purchaser of the F1 team will take over the employees and that they will be able to recommence their work including that at the Leafield site.
It's never good to see a team fall off the grid, so I wish them luck in finding a responsible buyer who can afford to keep the team going.
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