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Fernandes: Finishing 10th in the constructors’ championship “not essential”
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Tony Fernandes
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Oct 2013   |  11:54 am GMT  |  28 comments

Caterham F1 owner Tony Fernandes says it is “not essential” that his team beat Marussia and finish 10th in the constructors’ championship this season.

There are 11 teams but prize-money is only awarded to the top 10 teams in the constructors’ championship. Caterham beat Marussia to 10th in the final race of the season last year, but currently trail their rivals in 2013 with five races remaining.

“It’s not essential,” said Fernandes in October’s edition of the JA on F1 podcast. “I don’t think I’ll be able to raise enough to cover the payment. If we don’t, we don’t, we’ll have to buy one less football player at QPR.”

Fernandes, who was speaking at the launch of Caterham’s latest road car – the AeroSeven concept, has been around Formula 1 for 10 years, first as a sponsor of Williams and second as Caterham team owner. The Malaysian-businessman said teams must bickering and work together to find a solution to bring down costs.

“It costs crazy money to run an F1 team now,” he said. “Back when I watched F1, it was stickers galore with everyone fighting to be a sponsor. But reality bites and people need to think a bit longer term than they are now.

“For years I was promised a sport that would cost less money. For me that’s a major failure of the sport. Nothing has got cheaper everything as got more expensive, so I’m not sure what the benefits are to be honest.

“I’ve always said you have to earn your place at the table, but the difference between the top and bottom teams in F1 is dissimilar to football. In football, teams at the top don’t get so much more than those at the bottom of the league. I think it needs to be equalized in F1.

“People have to stop taking the dog-eat-dog approach because it’s a short term approach. If you don’t have a sport any more, what’s the point? We had a group called Fota but everyone tried to screw each other – and they’re only ones to blame. The teams missed an opportunity but ultimately, it’s the owners of the sport who have to be real. Is what’s happening healthy for the sport?”

You can hear more Tony Fernandes in the October edition of the JA on F1 podcast It also features interviews with four-time world champion Alain Prost, legendary commentator Murray Walker and FIA presidential candidate David Ward.

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28 Comments
  1. Chow Loon says:

    “I don’t think I’ll be able to raise enough to cover the payment”… is that accurate? Seems more like he’s saying he can, by not buying a QPR player?

  2. Rupert Suren says:

    I seem to remember that Bernie plans to drop the team that finishes last this year, or was that only if that team was called Marussia?

    1. Random 79 says:

      I think Bernie only wants ten teams because he thinks that only having ten teams will be “easier to manage”. I have my doubts; even if there were only two teams those two teams would still disagree about everything.

      Bernie likes money. If there is an eleventh team that has to pay fees to enter the championship but doesn’t receive any money in return then that should be win-win for Bernie.

      1. Tim says:

        Have you read the Art of War by Adam Parr? It’s really good and gives a fascinating insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ politicking in F1. For instance, AP claims Bernie let it be known that Williams would not receive a contract with him whilst AP remained as CEO at Williams. I guess Frank resisted for a while and then, the very day AP resigned a contract with Bernie arrived at Williams HQ!
        My only complaint is the book was too short!

      2. Random 79 says:

        Nope, but I’ll check it out if I happen to see it around :)

    2. toleman fan says:

      I thought Bernie had already dropped Marussia, and Caterham got the 10th place money if they finish 11th anyway. I’m pretty sure Marussia – don’t- get it, so does that mean FOM keep it?

  3. Simonb78 says:

    I can see Marussia & Caterham merging at the end of the season, it was mooted last year and with the return of testing, more
    expensive enginers etc… it would seem to make sense.

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      Merging Marussia and Caterham makes absolutely no sense at all to me, especially from a sporting and entertainment point of view. Ok, it’s minor compared to the cars racing up front, but it is still racing.

      -Two teams competing and racing each other down to one team with nobody to race?!

      - Which of the two will take the highest position, who will finish ahead in the championship.

      -Extra cars on track always adds to the action whether racing each other, being lapped, dealing with them in qually etc. F1 of old had loads of cars, even a pre-qually session.

      - Can they ever develop a car to race Torro Rosso or Williams or Force India?

      -Extra cars allow us to evaluate new young drivers, Alonso Minardi, Webber Minardi, Senna Toleman. Especially now teams are so reliant on pay drivers.

      I’d rather see Marussia on the track even if it was just so see say Sam Bird race against James Calado.

      Why is Bernie so bitter towards Marussia, is it recent, someone there annoyed him like Parr did, or is it historical, something to do with Branson, or are they most likely to shutdown financially and he doesn’t want that impression of F1 teams going bust?

      What is his beef with them in particular and the wierd obsession with only 10 teams?

  4. Mitchel says:

    From ‘McLaren exist to win’ to this dross!

    What is happening to F1?

  5. Chetan Chohan says:

    To be honest, if Marussia were not to get the 10th spot, then I would begin to worry about their future within the sport.

    Caterham seemed to have built some strong foundations for the longer term, them finishing 11th I can’t see being an issue.

    At least I hope not as Tony seems to be a great man to have in the sport.

  6. DMyers says:

    He’s got a point. The new teams came into F1 because there was going to be a budget cap, which never materialised. Now F1 is as expensive as ever, and it’s as unsustainable as ever. If Vettel and Red Bull continue to run away with everything, watch viewer numbers plummet. That means less revenue for sponsors, which means sponsors will pull out and teams will disappear with nobody to replace them. The way the sport is run is utterly insane, and detrimental.

    1. Tim says:

      watch viewer numbers plummet…

      Was that pun intended? If it was I tip my cap ;-)

    2. Richard C says:

      When did smaller teams ever have an equal share? It’s called ‘Grand Prix’ racing for a reason, because if you’re successful you get a big prize!!!

      People get hung up on this being a ‘sport’, but it’s so
      much more than that really, there’s very little comparable to any other sport as there is so much required in terms of engineering, people and resources, which in turn drains funds. F1 is a victim of it’s own success, as technology now demands so much more than, say, 30 years ago.

      Genuinely what could be done to keep F1 a true prototype race series without legislating the hell out of it and stifling things beyond what we have now? Just my two cents, but personally I believe all statements like this ARE the politicking in F1. Dont get too sad for the billionaire boss of football teams and airlines… ;)

    3. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      You could also add viewer numbers plummeting in the UK due to F1 moving to pay-per view.

      Millions of less UK viewers in recent years has to impact on sponsors interests, no matter if more people may be watching in say China.

      The casual fans who enjoyed watching the championship live on BBC, are not interested in or cannot afford to pay for SkyHD/SkySports (though they would still be there if Bernie and BBC had allowed it on C4 who offered the same cash as Sky) It sounds like a business model that would be a proven bad idea to roll out to Germany, Spain, France and even globally, if you are attempting to bring sponsors back.

  7. Elie says:

    I like a guy who doesn’t mince his words when he is passionate about something. Especially if he was promise so much when he entered Caterham.

    I cannot see Marrussia merging with Caterham. They have a very strong brand now with their manufacturer of sportscars. Perhaps further down the track when Marussia decide to call it a day.

  8. Peter Miles says:

    I do think Caterham, and Marussia, were basically conned into joining the sport. At that time all the talk was of constraining costs, maybe even customer cars (though I’ve never seen the point in that) but the fact is they joined, the promises made didn’t materialise so here they are. Suffering, as are the midfield teams even though they were already in place.

    I don’t have enough inside information to understand what this was all about but I blame Bernie. It was not accidental, he has his own agenda and it does not coincide with the future well being of F1. In fact it coincides with nothing except the generation of monetary profit. Which, I admit is necessary, but geese and golden eggs spring to mind.

    1. Random 79 says:

      As I understand it Mosley was genuine about cutting costs and so Marussia, Caterham and HRT all joined in good faith.

      Then the whole Mosley scandal thing happened which resulted in Mosely out, Todt in which in turn resulted in a change of policies.

      The bottom line is yes, they got shafted, but it wasn’t meant to be that way.

      I’m not sure how much Bernie had to do with any of that but I’m pretty confident he would have been in the mix somewhere.

  9. Luiz Paulo says:

    What if Bernie introduced a football system in f1. Whoever come last in the season would drop to gp2 and the number 1 gp2 team I that season would be promoted to the f1. This in my opinion would shake things up among the backmarkers and bring more sponsors to the gp2 teams.

    1. Alexis says:

      The sponsors would just desert the relegated team though, leaving it to go bust.

    2. Christopher Cave says:

      I like it! +1

    3. jakobusvdl says:

      I can’t see anything like that happening.
      The cars in F1 and GP2 would have to be the same spec, which would mean F1 becomes a spec car series, or GP2 becomes as expensive as F1.

  10. coefficient says:

    F1 is becoming harder and harder to swallow these days. All the teams squander ludicrous sums of money with gay abandon whilst the world beyond “civilised” europe is in turmoil and they seek to pacify the green brigade by turning the lights off at night.

    The introduction of the “green” technology is one of the most hilarious platitudes to the subject of the environment ever conceived. F1 has become a floating island of greed and leaves a sour taste in my mouth nowadays and it greaves me to say this.

    The racing is dishonest as a result of marshmallow tyres and DRS, the tracks are bad, it’s less about the racing than the money hence this debate. It’s more about ensuring viewers see what the owners of F1 perceive to be a “good show” rather than having a proper race which is both insulting to the viewer and a self defeating objective.

    $50m would be an obscene amount of money to go racing with yet some teams spend 6 or even 10 times that, PER SEASON!!!! It is ridiculous when you think a top IRL team operates on about $10m a year and a midfield team can get by on $3m.

    In this day and age of record global austerity/poverty F1 is just becoming totally irrelevant because the powers that be can’t see beyond their own balance sheets.

    There is real potential for F1 to do great things with regards the environment and the promotion of peace because of it’s mass appeal and global scale yet for the sake of profit morals are cast aside so we see the sport sully itself by climbing into bed with arab dictators and Russian oligarchs.

    These days I prefer watching something that doens’t have quite such a bitter aftertaste.

    1. James Allen says:

      Nice review! Anything positive to add?

      1. coefficient says:

        Well, if the suit fits.

        F1 should not just be a test bed for cutting edge technology which it is less and less anyway these days despite protestations to the contrary. In reality, F1 is now catching up with the road car industry because hybrid technology has been around there for years now.

        Millions if not billions of people aspire to be involved with F1 in any capacity however small. As such F1 should be pioneering new endeavours in social and economic responsibility and help lead people to aspire to those ideals too rather than pouring salt into an already festering wound. With great power comes great responsibility to quote Spiderman.

        You asked for a positive addition. Here it is. F1 is full of great people who are capable of great things and because of the unique global position F1 enjoys the sport could really reflect the modern aspirations of humanity rather than the financial needs of the corporate few. Most people want to look after planet earth and help the poor by bringing equality. Unfortunately F1 is a shining example that Democracy as a principal is of no consideration where vast sums of money are involved and it gives the average Joe justifaction for feeling like it’s one rule for the haves and another for the have nots.

        It’s a shame they have such tunnel vision and it’s a shame that such a concentration of great minds have lost themselves in the minutiae rather than seeing the bigger picture.

        I know there are people in F1 that are of a similar opinion but the culture therein prevails and their hands are tied. Those people are probably the true racers too.

        Didn’t mean to upset you James. Sorry if I did.

      2. James Allen says:

        Takes more than that to upset me!

        Was curious, that’s all

      3. coefficient says:

        Thats what I thought.

        As much as I find Bernie an interesting character I think it could be time for him to step aside if only for his apparent resistence to progress such as his desire to retain the V8.

        F1 should grasp the nettle and go about setting itself up as an eco technology trailblazer. I really think the public is ready to accept and participate in the race to save the planet from global warming etc and if an icon like F1 became a leading light as opposed to a bit part in the story the public would get on side massively. Then, the big corporations would follow suit because they would need to in order to remain relevant/profitable. Blue sky thinking it may be but I’m with Brian Cox where that’s concerned.

        Have a great weekend at Suzuka James!

      4. Peldo says:

        Exactly. I am really amazed by the negative commenting all the time. Nothing is ever good. I wonder why even follow the sport if it’s so unpleasant.

        This is big business and everyone is trying to optimze their business case. I doubt those team owners are doing if for charity or just for the love of the sport. They probably have racing close to their heart but they will not waste their money for it. It’s all bigger agenda and the complaining is to get larger share of the pot. When they see it’s not bringing what was intended they dump the team. Even Ferrari would walk away if the business is not profitable.

        Sometimes the greed has side effects that the fans don’t like but that will be sorted out when it becomes critical. For example if the Vettel always winning is identified to be reason for dropping of revenues it will be dealth with. I think so far Bernie is looking that having these eras of clear number one in pecking order is good. The name and face is recognized everywhere and associated with F1. Superstars always attract audience. Die hard racing enthusiasts don’t like it but so what. Money is flowing in even in these difficult sponsoring times.

        The sport is still nice to watch even some issues like tyre failures, domination, changing requlations and so forth. They just make each season little different and I like it.

        There are many angles you can follow this sport. One of the fun part is to read technical innovation. Characters like Kimi and opposite Vettel. No words vs. can’t stop in conferences.

        Game on.

      5. coefficient says:

        I don’t agree. I don’t want f1 to be solely a soap opera. All the press conferences and back story gossip you can keep. Proper, pure racing is what is required and done so in a socially and ecologically responsible manner. F1 is moving swifly towards the bizarre situation where the actual race itself is incidental to all the other rubbish that surrounds it.

        Suzuka was the second race in a row where I couldn’t muster the the will to waste my Sunday watching it. Instead I just popped on F1Fanatic, read the predictably boring result which I had already guessed a week ago and then went hiking with my family.

        The racing used to justify the time I devoted to F1 but now I can’t give my wife a good enough reason to devote several hours of my weekend to watching it and that’s because it’s all so bloody false.

        Interestingly, I don’t think the SKY coverage helps matters because much of the build up to the race is filled with mind numbing drivel. Fair enough, the Brundle expert analysis bits are great and a real treat but there is so much pointless stuff there I have to switch it off to echoes of “what the heck are they waffling about” from the wife.

        From a broadcasting perspective F1 has never been as well represented since the James Allen/Martin Brundle days.

        The current era is even more annoying than the Schumacher days. At least then you knew they were thrashing the living daylights out of the cars rather than saving fuel/tyres/chatting on the radio/filing their nails or whatever else they find time to do whilst pottering around at 85% of the car’s potential. We used to hear talk of 110%, not anymore and not for a long time except maybe for qualifying if the tyres hold together for a hot lap.

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