Caterham will have a new team principal next season after owner Tony Fernandes confirmed he would imminently be stepping down after three years in the role.
Fernandes’s announcement comes in the same week that he achieved a major landmark for the Caterham brand as a whole by entering into a partnership with Renault to revive the Alpine sportscar brand which will see two new models to be launched within the next four years.
On creating the then Lotus Racing outfit, with the name under licence from Group Lotus, in late 2009, the Malaysian entrepreneur made clear that his stay as team principal would be only a medium-term measure until he found a suitable successor to lead the team forward.
And with the team, and crucially its brand, now firmly stabilised in F1, Fernandes says he and deputy chairman Kamarudin Meranun have taken this as their cue to hand over the reigns.
“On the racing side we have come to the conclusion that it is better if someone else takes over the team principal role to move forward,” he said in an interview with Autocar magazine. “We are definitely better at business than finding tenths of seconds around a lap.
“It was right for us to lead the team initially and set a template of how it should be. That vision is now set and the team is ready to move forward to the midfield.”
Although Fernandes didn’t specify the identity of his successor, he did confirm there was one in place and they were a figure already working within the sport: “I know who it will be – and can tell you that today as I had confirmation earlier.
“[But] I cannot tell you their name yet. All I can say is that they are from within F1.”
With Mike Gascoyne having taken on a wider remit within the Caterham Group earlier this year – and to lead the Caterham design team in the new joint venture with Renault – Fernandes’ decision to stand down as team principal heralds the start of the next chapter for the F1 operation in its development. In September, Fernandes appointed Renault Sport F1 deputy managing director Cyril Abiteboul as the team’s new CEO.