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Fernandes sells Caterham to Swiss-Mideast consortium advised by Colin Kolles
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Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  02 Jul 2014   |  3:29 pm GMT  |  80 comments

Confirming weeks of speculation, Caterham today announced that Tony Fernandes and his business partners have sold the team to a “consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors, advised by former F1 Team Principal Colin Kolles”.

In an interesting development the team will be run on a day-to-day basis by former F1 driver Christijan Albers.

Albers, who made 46 grand prix starts in a three-season stint in F1 starting in 2005, raced for Kolles when the Romanian-German was in charge at Midland and Spyker in 2006/07 and was reunited with the former HRT boss in sport cars in 2009 and 2010.
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The new ownership takes charge with immediate effect and Albers will be assisted by another close ally of Kolles, former HRT business affairs manager Manfredi Ravetto. The pair will take over the day-to-day running of the team, reporting directly to the board. They will replace Cyril Abiteboul who will leave the team. It has been rumoured that Abiteboul will return to Renault, who he left to join Caterham in 2012.

Up until recently Kolles had been heavily linked with the putative Forza Rosso team, a Romanian outfit that had applied to the FIA for and F1 entry for 2015. Quite where this latest move leaves that project, which has not had a final seal of approval from the FIA, is open to question.

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Of the Caterham buyout, Albers said: “We are aware of the huge challenge ahead of us given the fight at the bottom end of the Championship and our target now is to aim for tenth place in the 2014 Championship. We are very committed to the future of the team and we will ensure that the team has the necessary resources to develop and grow and achieve everything it is capable of.”

 

 

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  1. zombie says:

    Put this news into perspective of how well the former Jordan team has done under Vijay Mallya. ‘Force India’ was written off, and many said they wont last 2 seasons without folding for good. Instead they have gone from strength to strength and are a solid mid-grid team now.

    Unfortunately, i just don’t see Caterham and Marussia lasting beyond 2015. It also makes me wonder what compels these tailender teams to keep putting good money after bad when they know they have no chance staying on the same lap as front runners let alone win races.

    1. AndyFov says:

      The old Jordan team didn’t do too badly under Eddie Jordan. I seem to remember them fighting at the front more regularly than Force India ever have.

      Eddie was wise enough to quit while he was ahead though. F1 is no place for minnows now. What with the broken promise of Mosley’s budget cap, and Bernie reportedly now saying he’s favouring 3 car teams, I’d be willing to invest none of my own money into a tail end team. It’s just an opportunity to get burnt before folding to make way for the next delusional consortium with an investment to decimate.

      I feel sorry that it hasn’t worked out for Tony Fernandes, he seems like a nice guy, and I felt privileged to have heard him speak at that JAonF1 FOTA thing in London. Ultimately though he’s just become another hapless victim of Bernie’s game.

      1. aveli says:

        yep tony is a very nice down to earth guy, who had a good go at it. The unfortunate thing was that he took on the guys who were discarded by force india to run the team who chose the renault engine. a

        any way they can’t all win.

    2. Adam Lucas says:

      Racing is an addiction. The old saying, “How to make a small fortune in racing? Start out with a large fortune!” Never more true than in today’s racing where they’re always talking cost control and spending more every year.

    3. Sasidharan says:

      Burn Black Money

    4. Maverick says:

      Jordan team was much better then current force india. They gathered 4 wins and Heinz-Herald Frentzen finished 3rd in drivers championship in 1999 winning at Magny Cours and Monza. In addition in 1998, Damon Hill won at SPA in 1998 and Barrichello, Eddie Irvine, Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher had numerous podiums over the years. But yeah, Force India are a solid middle of the pack team.

      1. Owen says:

        Of course you are referring to Jordan pre-2000! After they sacked HHF mid-way through 2000 (?) – their sponsors left in their droves. In addition to having to pay HHF out for breach of contract, as well as EJ’s ill-fated and costly attempt to sue Vodaphone – Jordan ran out of money – and save for Fisichella’s lucky win in the chaotic rain disrupted race in Brazil, Jordan became a shadow of its former self with EJ eventually selling a virtually bankrupt operation. After subsequent failures by Midland and Spyker, I think Force India have done well to rebuild this team from the ashes – so one can’t compare the 2.

    5. David in Sydney says:

      Agree. Force India despite all the naysayers is running quite nicely thank you.

      Initially I thought of Tony losing his bottle and leaving the Caterham to rot but then I figured: he’s built a team, he was let down by the cost cap failure, he stopped the team folding and he’s sold it on to others who want to make a go of it.

  2. Pkara says:

    The new consortium must have spare money to throw down a hole.
    Can’t believe anyone would buy a team going nowhere fast.
    You wouldn’t see this team going far or fast or paying Renault money owed for engines this season or nr on a contract fot engines next season. Will the new cash cow to foot all bills ?
    Maybe the Swiss part of the consortium are using money locked away from all the plunder sitting in vaults from WWll .
    Can see in a year from now mid season the new consortium trying to give it away for a £1.
    Sometimes its better to let the team end… like Super Aguri.
    Can see the team still meandering at the back of the pack.

    1. Pkara says:

      Sorry for the bad spelling predictive text acting up :-D

      1. aveli says:

        just because you can see their vision doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. have you seen how well resourced ferrari, mclaren, redbull and mercedes are? is there a correlation on the championship table?

      2. Pkara says:

        No way this team will go round & round like water swirling down a sink drain until it falls apart. They have more chance of finding a golden wrapper in a Willie Wonker chocolate bar & winning a trip to Willies chocolate factory, than being successful. Plus Willie Wonka is fictional :-D .
        Sorry but that will not happen. They just end up getting in the way of qualifing & racing causing safety car issues just like Marussia (who give it two more seasons will go the way of Caterham.
        Bernie wants the big teams to have 3 cars per team ln track. Caterham Marrussia will not have the funds for that.
        Dream on Caterham will go the way of Super Aguri.
        At least Super Aguri bowed out quickly. Catherham reminds me of a fly whos had its wings pulled off by a naughty child. The fly still attempts to fly but it ain’t going airborne anytime soon :-D . Reality will bite them hard when 3 cars per team becomes the norm.

    2. Egal says:

      Maybe the money came from Brits who plundered the world of it’s resources for centuries?

      [mod]

      1. |GregB says:

        Or it could be the French or Spanish who were doing the same but not as well, and lets not even talk about the Romans.

      2. Pkara says:

        This has a hint of
        Life of Brian all of a sudden :-D

      3. Matías says:

        Can i claim my share? i’m Argentinian, so, good money stolen from us :D

      4. Sasidharan says:

        You left out Portugese

      5. Pkara says:

        Steady !! :-D Andy Murray just lost today so Johnny Foriegner is plundering the Silverware as we speak :-D

      6. F1 Badger says:

        That’s our thanks for giving you civilisation!

      7. Pkara says:

        Here here :-D

      8. F1 Badger says:

        Oh and don’t forget the Russians, Japanese, Germans and Dutch!! They all had a crack too!!!!

      9. Pkara says:

        Don’t forget the Mongels & Genghis Khan :-D
        China.
        Yes the Chinese are on the rampage in Africa.
        :-D

    3. AndyFov says:

      Sorry to be pedantic, but it’s wrong to say “they’re going nowhere fast.”

      They’re going nowhere just within the 107% rule. ;)

      1. Pkara says:

        :-D like it .

      2. Random 79 says:

        Lol – Very true :)

    4. Ben Zard says:

      F1 wasn’t stuffed then like it is now

    5. warley says:

      Shhhhh! Dont mention the war!

  3. goferet says:

    Welcome back to Christijan Albers, it’s always nice seeing a familiar face in a paddock and here’s wishing Albers can have the same effect former drivers Lauda and Berger had on Mercedes and Torro Rosso respectively.

    Sorry for Fernandes and the deck of cards he was played, at least he can sleep soundly at night in the knowledge he gave the sport his best shot unfortunately Bianchi’s points in Monaco hurt deeply and so it’s was time to cut their losses.

    Now we wait and see whether Bernie’s 3 car wish will get granted or if teams like Caterham will have a shot.

    1. Andrew M says:

      “it’s always nice seeing a familiar face in a paddock”

      If I didn’t have his picture in front of me I couldn’t pick Christian Albers out of a line up.

      1. Eggman says:

        …. You spelt his name wrong

    2. dren says:

      For this to just now have hit the media, I’m guessing it has been in the works for some time. I’m going to guess Fernandes started the motions after the preseason tests.

      1. goferet says:

        @ dren

        I recall Fernandes said sometime during the launch (or earlier) that if the team didn’t score a point this season then he would be forced to pull the plug.

  4. Park says:

    James,what about Albers’s management experience?

  5. Jodum5 says:

    Incredible, after all that hype and talk from Tony Fernandes. For some reason, since learning he was a trained dentist, I’ve always been a fan of Collin Kolles

    1. Sebee says:

      Let’s try it this way….

      So you are saying that since CT05′s erection didn’t go away after 7 GPs Caterham had to call in a medically trained professional?

    2. Random 79 says:

      Maybe you just have a thing for dentists? ;)

      1. Elie says:

        I didnt mind going to the dentist when they had gorgeous young assistants in the their very trim white uniforms.. Maybe thats for another post also..: )

    3. Alec Tronix says:

      I don’t know why you would be a fan of Colles… All it seems he does is hang around the fringes of the sport trying to get other people to spend their money to give him a job rubbing shoulders with the big wigs.
      I would like to see his full F1 CV:
      Midland -fail
      Speaker – fail
      HRT – fail
      Etc
      Etc

      1. Alec Tronix says:

        Spy kern not speaker

      2. Sebee says:

        Alec,

        So he gets to run a team and doesn’t have to spend a penny and actually gets paid?

        I say genius! :-)

      3. Random 79 says:

        Yeah…but he’s also a dentist! :D

      4. Owen says:

        The new “investor consortium” remains unnamed – not too promising I must say, but I think Colin Kolles does provider a glimmer of hope. I think he should not be blamed for past failures – I think he kept teams going on virtually nothing for much longer than they would otherwise have – i.e. he knows how to run an operation on a shoe-string budget – just hopefully he can stick around to rescue this one – if the mysterious investors don’t disappear!

    4. aveli says:

      i admire tony fernandez for being brave enough to make that decision after all he walked away with some money. honda lost two teams and walked away with nothing. bmw and prost also walked away with nothing. he has investments in other sports and he could see returns on those outstripping his f1 investment and made a good decision. it may not be the best but a good one.

  6. Gaz Boy says:

    Sorry to be a bit harsh, but Caterham have been one of the disappointments of the last 5 odd years. You would have thought that when they first appeared in race trim in March 2010 that by July 2014 they would be in the mid-field fight and scoring a point or two on merit, but alas, no…………….of the new teams that appeared in March 2010 I believed Caterham had the greatest potential. I was wrong………….a lot of F1 pundits were as well.
    I think Caterham under-estimated F1 hugely, so it’s good and right a new owner has been found and can freshen up the team.
    However, there are some positives. Caterham have got an excellent facility in Leafield, with the ability to expand. They are right slap bang in the middle of the Formula 1 valley, unlike Macca based in deepest darkest Surrey, or Sauber in the middle of Europe surrounded by the Alps. That means Caterham have got quick and easy access routes to suppliers around Oxon/Bucks/Northamtons.
    There is a historical precedent for this. Back at the end of 2004 a certain team based in Milton Keynes was bought by a certain energy drink company. The certain team in Milton Keynes had struggled badly for years for a variety of different reasons, but they had a good facility with the potential to expand and recruit star personnel. In 2005 they were mid grid at best, but with time and tide had become world beaters………………by the end of 2009 the certain team at Milton Keynes were in the F1 ascendance. For the next 4 odd years they were the team on top of the world…………….

    1. ManOnWheels says:

      I’m smelling QADBAK and Quantum all over again, when I read something of a “consortium that wants to stay in the background” (as reported elsewhere). It’s a good way to close the doors and lay off all your staff cheaply: Just sell the whole company to some windy letterbox company, and when the bubble bursts you don’t have any obligations anymore.

    2. Sebee says:

      And this was due to location or resources?

      Ferrari won from Italy under Schumi.

      I think you may be right ManOnWheels. It is a potential wind down start.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        You’re right Sebee – Michael did won in the Italian Ferrari. Notice the “did” – which I believe is past tense…………..as in not relevant to the immediate moment……….
        Perhaps that Ferrari’s problems – their tech and aero department are using outdated methodology and technology? Possibly.

      2. Matías says:

        so, for you it’s a pre-requisite to have a base on the UK to be champion? i’m not a friend of “if’s” but… IF Alonso had someone who was more than 5 years old doing his strategy, he’ll be a champion, and i don’t think is all that far away…

    3. Random 79 says:

      “For the next 4 odd years they were the team on top of the world…”

      …and then Renault had a collective brain fart.

      You’re right about Caterham though: They have been one of the disappointments of the last 5 odd years – I would say the disappointment. Sad to say that although Caterham were (and are) a massive disappointment they’re not the first team to fail.

      What sets them apart for me though is their pattern of:

      We’re setting up our structure.
      We’re setting ourselves targets.
      We’re failing to meet those targets.
      We’re re-structuring.
      We’re setting ourselves new targets.
      We’re failing to meet those targets too.
      We’re re-structuring.
      We’re setting ourselves more conservative targets.
      We’re still failing to meet our targets.
      We’re re-structuring.
      And so on…

      So I say the new consortium should learn a thing or two from Marussia: No big talk, no big targets, just heads down, bums up, sneak up on the mid-field and when given the chance and a little luck grab some points.

    4. DAVE Emberton says:

      Do you know where Leafield is? If anyone is in the middle of the motorsports valley it’s Maurussia in Banbury. Leafield is pretty much the middle of nowhere, relatively speaking for Oxfordshire.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        That is correct, but don’t forget Caterham used to be based in the big sky country of Norfolk……………….or Turnipshire as Jeremy Clarkson calls it.
        Speaking of Jezza, Leafield isn’t far from Chipping Norton where he lives. Perhaps Caterham can ask the Big Ape to help them out?

  7. dren says:

    James, any word on what power units Caterham will run with going into the future? Also, for the team to continue to be branded as Caterham, I am guessing Fernandes has some sort of sponsorship role?

    1. James Allen says:

      Kolles used to be very good friends with Toto Wolff, but not sure if he still is.

      If Lotus have already lined up that ex-McLaren supply of engines then I guess Caterham stays with Renault

      1. Tim says:

        My understanding was they ‘used to’ be good friends, and ‘used to’ should be stressed – that they’re barely on speaking terms. As such Wolff is unlikely to even entertain the idea of providing power units to a team managed by Kolles.

  8. Olivier says:

    1. Frijns in, Marcus out?

    2. Did they buy the Caterham name as well? Or only their infrastructure & facilities to build a F1 car?

    3. They sure cannot change the Caterham Renault name as the name is registered for this year’s Championship? It is a bit like BMW Sauber Ferrari in 2009?

    4. What a sad ending of what started as a promising story in 2009. The FIA is partly responsible for this as they did not stay true to the proposed 40M budget cap of Max Mosley.

    The FIA’s effort to attract new teams has been a Big failure: one team did not even start (Team USA), one folded (HRT) and two changed ownership (Marusia and Caterham). And Caterham is clearly struggling because of the expensive & underperforming Renault engine.

    Of the four new teams that entered the sport in 2009, only Marusia has a slight chance to be part of the 2015 grid … F1 is not sustainable.

    1. RodgerT says:

      RE: Question 2.
      They are only buying out the Caterham F1. The road car and other companies stay with Fernandes and his partners.

    2. Tom says:

      BMW Sauber-Ferrari were in 2010, not 2009.

  9. Karl says:

    Sad for Kobayashi and the Japanese people who financed his comeback. He is doing a good work considering the car he has. Media seems to forget that he didn’t drive most of the first practice sessions.

    Surprised about what Mr Allen replied concerning Latus managed to secure the Mercedes engines from McLaren. Lotus Grand Prix must have amazing negotiators. No money in the bank, but MAYBE have been able to secure the best engine in the field.

  10. Colm says:

    That’s tough for Fernandes. Fair on him for finding decent buyers who will carry the team and employees forward.

  11. janis1207 says:

    If honestly, I can’t see it happening for the Caterham.
    This kind of anonymous investors rarely have the kind of money (or patience) to make it at least to the midfield. Remember Antonov and Snoras bank? Afraid, it could be something along the same lines.
    Will be glad indeed to be proven wrong, though.

    1. aveli says:

      why are so many keen on predicting the future?

  12. Oudinot says:

    Yet another businessman in a baseball cap that wants to walk away when the going isn’t as good as they thought it would be after watching Grand Prix (1968). Tony Fernandes won’t be the last.

    Red Bull, I suspect, are not immune to this.

    There may be trouble ahead…but while there’s moonlight and love and romance….let’s face the music and dance!

  13. Rich C says:

    One assumes they bought only the F1 team and not the entire car company?

  14. grifle says:

    James, I find that the new look of your website is hurting my eyes. It is just too bright! Feel like I am lost in a blizzard and I can’t find my way around without any borders…

    Oh. it looks too “McLareny” too.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Put on a Ferrari hat and wear shades ;)

  15. HP says:

    Off Topic, Jame and everyone else,
    Does anyone know which driver’s going to be driving on which day (8-9 July) at next week’s testing at Silverstone?

  16. Lockster says:

    James, is there any particular moment or event where you think this team lost it’s way?

    I always felt that the departure of Mike Gascoyne and the ongoing battle over the Lotus name really took the wind out of their sails and forced them to rejig their whole business and marketing model on the fly which can’t be an easy thing to do.

    1. James Allen says:

      When they realised that Max Mosley’s promised budget cap wasn’t going to happen, so top teams would still spend €200m + a year

      They should have done better with the people and resource they have though

      1. aveli says:

        or they should’ve employed nigel stepney.

  17. kenneth chapman says:

    in an overall sense, this new ownership looks to me like a loss making tax deduction. i really cannot fathom out the ‘business’ logic at all. sometimes we see the emergence of ‘benevolent billionaires’ or other like minded souls who are out for a good time and hang the expense [or the creditors]. either way….why do they bother.?

    these tail enders are going nowhere! i am 100% behind BE for the introduction of three car teams. at least the battle for mid field would be absolutely fierce and there would be the chance of bringing in top youngsters who then may be able to graduate to the top teams by way of recognition in the expanded and improved teams.

    1. aveli says:

      they can’t all win and it will soon be tomorrow.

  18. Random 79 says:

    I should note that for anyone who thinks that Tony didn’t get anything out of Lotus/Caterham for 5 years, he did get Sir Richard Branson as an air stewardess :)

  19. Brachistochrone says:

    Mark Smith was the incompetent responsible for Caterham’s state. I am staggered that Smith gained a reputation as a designer with such a poor record.
    The spiel one heard from him that all resources were centred on the 2014 project was a con. Mind you Fernandes and his lieutenants failed to spot the warning signs back in 2012 when the barely got tenth spot. Once a design team produces bad car it’s difficult to correct it without fresh insight. This year’s car handles slightly better than a shopping cart.
    The ill informed will point the finger at Renault but Caterham are 2s off the pace of cars using the same power unit. That’s not down to engine deficit.

  20. Torchwood Five says:

    This was inevitable.

    Think about any lifelong dreams you have had. Tony Fernandez’ lifelong dream was to bring the Lotus name back to Formula One, which he managed to, over two seasons, but on losing the legal battle, he surprisingly did the next best thing, and brought Caterham back into the sport.

    There is a massive emotional gap between “lifelong dream” and “next best thing”, so he would have been running on steam for all the subsequent years running Caterham F1.

    I have seen some comments on here that his attention was too diluted / divided with running QPR at the same time.
    I don’t know if having Queens Park Rangers or any football team was as important to Tony as having Lotus, but if he had won the court case to retain the name, it is arguable that the F1 team would have taken priority.

    I was very supportive of his attempts, and disappointed the way the Lotus Cars, or whatever they were called, abandoned his team, and went into business with the then Renault F1 team.

  21. DAVE Emberton says:

    This proves the greater idiot theory, plus what Bernie says: There’s always another billionaire.

    I couldn’t help but laugh when I read that the new owners were advised by Colin Kolles of HRT.

  22. Elie says:

    Its very sad that Tony is pulling out of f1. He came in with some passion and determination and it really is the fact he was of a the understanding significant budget constaints would be operating already, so it very unfair for people to discount this. That said Marussia seem to be making some progress and I think they cant at leaast survive nezt year.

  23. kenneth chapman says:

    being a bottom three competitor is really a self defeating exercise in relation to being a successful enterprise.

    they usually come in with limited funds and then expect to be competetive. they will never be competetive as long as the rules remain as they are. BE is right on this. the fact that to be in F1 means that they must be ‘constructors’ is the main reason why they cannot compete. given the chance to buy/lease and run a team of two cars would be a simpler way of maintaining their presence.the massive impost required to be a ‘constructor’ means that they will inevitably fall by the wayside under the present R & R. cost caps are not the way forward.

    they could be classified as ‘non constructors / F1 affiliated’ entries and have their own prize pool. the other eight teams would still compete for the WCC as per now. surely, this has to be the way forward if the requirement to field 22 cars remains an FIA wish.

  24. Joe S says:

    It’s a shame to see Fernandez go but neither team has really done better than the other I’d say. Both disappointing and a waste of time. Would be good to see them both gone. Shame there’s at least one more team coming in (Haas’ entry) and maybe that Romanian team/

    And why does Kolles seem to be often be at back-of-the-grid teams? He’s bad news and it’s a bad sign when you see he’ll be involved with a team.

  25. Torchwood Five says:

    Granted that I really only care about F1, and F1 matters; I was listening to the Sky team just now, pre-qualifying at Silverstone, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that Tony Fernandez has kept on the Caterham’ GP2 team; its only the F1 team that he’s offloaded.

    So Tony hasn’t abandoned Caterham’s presence in motorsport, altogether.

    It is a bit of a comfort.

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