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Caterham F1 Team handed over to administrators
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Posted By: Declan Quigley  |  24 Oct 2014   |  12:53 pm GMT  |  38 comments

In a shock development, the Caterham F1 team has announced that the consortium behind the takeover of the Leafield squad has handed back control of the F1 team to the administrator of Caterham Sports Limited to allow it to prepare and continue operating at the “next events.”

The announcement comes less than 24 hours before the Caterham cars and equipment are due to be shipped to Austin Texas ahead of next week’s US Grand Prix.

The Caterham statement read: “Following a request of yesterday evening at 21.55hrs CET from Caterham Sports Limited’s administrators and the legal advisors of Mr Tony Fernandes’ related EXIM Bank, representatives of 1MRT/Caterham F1 Team have agreed, with all rights reserved, to hand-over management of the Caterham F1 Team to the adminatrator Mr Finbarr O’Connell in the higher interest of allowing the team to continue operating and preparing for the next events.”

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The news is a surprise because the consortium’s adviser Colin Kolles has consistently claimed that he and his backers have no connection with Caterham Sports Limited and have legally acquired the right to run Caterham cars in the world championship.

However, Finbarr O’Connell of administrators Smith & Williamson seized control of the Leafield factory last week and refused to allow the cars to be released to the team.

It’s not clear how the administrator could run the team in Austin even if the cars and equipment were at the track.

We’ll have more on the story as it unfolds.

 

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38 Comments
  1. Jock Ulah says:

    Bernie oils the machinery . . .?

  2. oddball says:

    Why is this dentist allowed into F1?..every time a team has dealings with him then its a black day for the staff. Just ask Toto how this works out (i wont go into details James and Mods,i know the court order :), but really..first he does not know whats happening, then a cleaner is a sole shareholder and now its handed back….
    I just hope Tony F can keep his promise and look after his staff

  3. Phil says:

    Holy moly, it’s well and truly hit the fan. I can’t see how the hell they’re going to be running in Austin now.

    Want to run your own F1 team; consider a career as an Administrator. This gets murkier by the minute.

  4. Brett says:

    Get rid of all these backmarker teams and let all the big teams run three cars. Get rid of pay drivers and let real talent shine through.

    1. Voodoopunk says:

      No.

  5. franedrpaco says:

    This is beginning to look like a Whitehall Theatre production, with the stage being set as the CSL factory and four stage entrances for the protagonists.
    (For youngsters under the age of fifty The Whitehall Theatre was renown for its farces)

  6. Adam says:

    Bizarre in the Extreme!

  7. Laurence H says:

    This is why I’m not a businessman. I haven’t got a clue who owns what, or what all.the different companies do or are! Been trying to follow this story, but I’m giving up now.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Don’t worry – No-one else has a clue either, especially the people involved :)

      Stick with it, there’s still a week to Austin and some interesting developments to come:

      The now unemployed Ghurka soldiers will form a dance company and go on tour, delighting people all around the world.

      Britney Spears will announce that she’s buying Caterham.

      Random 79 will announce his true identity.

      Penny will discover that she’s actually a cyborg sent from the future to kill Leonard.

      Mercedes will withdraw from the championship on the grounds that it was just too easy.

      Bernie’s exo-suit will break revealing the fact that we was really an alien badger from Proxima Centauri sent to replace the original Bernie in order to destroy F1 once and for all.

      So, good times ahead…unless you work for Caterham :(

      1. Jock Ulah says:

        We all know that you’re Joe Saward . . .
        Taking a light-hearted break from the burdens of journalism . . .

        So you can cross that off your list.

  8. Drgraham lewis says:

    A certain administrator would appear determined to make a name for himself here. It looks like that may have backfired.

    His actions so far appear quite unlike the required duties of an Administrator (the maximisation of return and trying to retain the entity earning potential if possible) in the locking up of the money earning ‘vehicle’ etc.

    I would guess this latest move is quite possibly as a result of a couple of late nights looking at the rules under which F1 teams continue to retain the right to race ie actually be there, the realisation that those padlocks and soldiers remaining in place will make the whole operation worthless if they lose those rights and his position and tenure will mostly likely last even less than the team if he actively reduces the worth of the entity simply because he is very impressed with himself!

    1. Kimberley says:

      They are not the required duties of an administrator. The administrators role is to run, if able, the company as a going concern under strict solvency rules, but for an F1 team where is the money coming from? I’m pretty sure they get very little from F1 itself unless they are one of the top constructors or liable to increased payments through some kind of deal with BE, but from racing at a given event? As far as I can work out, nothing or very little.

      The only good news for Caterham is at least now the whole team appears to be together. The situation previously did no one any favours. Maybe a white knight group to buy now it’s all in a single package?

  9. Richard Piers says:

    What a mess ! What a pack of liars ! What a nest of vipers !
    F1 really does attract some appalling people, surely there can be better policing than currently or is money the only god.

  10. Rupert Suren says:

    Maybe Finbarr O’Connell could give Eddie Jordan a call for a bit of advice.

    1. Andrew M says:

      I don’t think the situation’s that desperate yet is it?

  11. Andrew M says:

    “The news is a surprise because the consortium’s adviser Colin Kolles has consistently claimed that he and his backers have no connection with Caterham Sports Limited and have legally acquired the right to run Caterham cars in the world championship.”

    It’s certainly a massive backtrack, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a massive surprise…

  12. Jodum5 says:

    How’s this a “shock” development?

    1. Declan Quigley says:

      As Andrew M says above it’s a massive backtrack and I don’t think it was expected though it’s hard to see how this unfortunate saga will play out. For the sake of the hardworking staff and fans of the team we can only hope that a buyer is found very quickly…

  13. Sebee says:

    Let’s band together and at least buy a team shirt to wear around the house.

    Plenty on ebay for 10GBP or less. Those that know F1 will understand why you bought it. Those that don’t know F1 will think you work at a catering firm specializing in pork dishes. Delish!

  14. vvipkho says:

    A big confusing this few days :
    Now who is the real owner of Caterham F1?

  15. Robert Lujan says:

    Are you serious….An Administrator on the pitwall… I want to see the first pitlane interview with Finbarr O’Connell and Eddie Jordan!

  16. Random 79 says:

    So Fernandes and the other lot have gone from arguing over who owns the team to arguing over doesn’t own the team to agreeing to hand ownership of the team they don’t own over to the administrator? Wasn’t the administrator already in control of the team? How are they going to get to Austin? And who’s who’s going to supply all the duct-tape to hold the cars together?

    “It’s not clear how the administrator could run the team in Austin even if the cars and equipment were at the track.”

    Fortunately that’s one question I can answer: The Ghurka soldiers that were guarding the factory will now be in charge of race strategy and performing pit-stops with the administrator as team principle.

    Love the photo of Kolles by the way – At this point he’s even more confused than we are :)

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      It’s a great big bloody mess if you ask me.
      With the benefit of hindsight should the Caterham/Lotus project be shot at birth? That is very harsh on the good folks who work there, but you can’t just go motor racing on a whim and idealism.

      1. Random 79 says:

        I reckon Fernandes started with the best of intentions but yeah, it went downhill fast.

        Let’s hope Haas can do better.

  17. Sebee says:

    My goodness, did Eddie Jordan really say this?

    “Sebastian Vettel has got to look over his shoulder and take a look at himself in the mirror, because today he’s been blown off by a younger guy.”

    What has he seen as he walks into the RBR garage? Really, this should be kept private. :-)

    1. oddball says:

      Funny

    2. Random 79 says:

      And I thought I was bad Sebee…well done! :)

  18. Howard P says:

    I’ve worked as an Administrator in the past, if I had known there was a chance of owning an F1 team I wouldn’t have studied engineering!

  19. Pen says:

    Nice idea to have Fnarr Fnarr interviewed by EJ! But he and the S&W team won’t actually be managing operations, the role of an Administrator is more akin to a replacement financial controller. I don’t know Fnarr bur I was 16 years at Smith & Williamson and they are a pretty competent bunch.

  20. Daniel M says:

    Wow, becoming an administrator sounds like a good job. Might get to play real life scalextric for a few weekends before packing up the whole thing and mothballing it in the loft.

  21. Jonathan C says:

    What I don’t understand is, considering how parts have already been seized from the factory, why did they return the cars there in the first place? Surely there was always a risk this could happen and they should have parked them somewhere not owned by whichever company is under the Administrators.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Like at McDonald’s?

  22. Robert says:

    OK, for those of you not in business, this is NOT a surprise. The only value in Caterham to extract is if the team finishes the season, otherwise if forfeits 50 million. That is in NO ONE’S best interest, either the past or future, or past/future/present owners.

    What has happened is that an administrator is following the USUAL “Administrator’s Playbook 101″, which first calls for rounding up all the assets and taking control of them, for summary disposal at auction or sale. That would be Mr Finbarr. Of course the “Administrator’s Playbook 101″ doesn’t have a chapter for “team must finish season or forfeits 50 million smackeroos”. It DOES have a chapter for deploying guards and another on sounding tough.

    So what has happened is that people that understand the missing “50 million smackeroos” chapter, including Fernandes and the new owners, and probably Bernie, have had a coming together and said enough is enough. Let’s do the adult thing and salvage some races for all of our sake’s.

    The administrator will probably hold _title_ to the cars, or at least some form of control of them even if they race. But he has been told that he has to let them race to close out the season.

    As for who will actually run the race, I expect to see none other than Tony F and his boys sitting on the pit wall in a week’s time, as he is the only one that has a chance at running the race safely and with the fewest screw-ups. And Bernie would probably insist upon that – the show must go on, and it must be safe. Especially these days…

    1. Andrew M says:

      “The only value in Caterham to extract is if the team finishes the season, otherwise if forfeits 50 million.”

      How does it forfeit 50 million (pounds?)? I didn’t think teams outside the top 10 got any money, and Caterham don’t look like getting there.

  23. Johnny Canuck says:

    I understand that the bottom line is that Caterham has to finsih the season to retain its F1 license and have something of value to sell at the end of the campaign. My question is, what exactly constitutes finishing the season? Does the team actually have to have one car on the track at the start of the race? If so, can they immediateky retire without running a lap (which would be rather easy if they do a pit lane start)? Would appearing during a qualifying session be enough to claim they “took part” in the race weekend? Or do they only need to have the cars at the track even if they never leave the garage? What exactly do they need to do in the coming weeks to retain the Caterham F1 franchise?

  24. Ed Valentine says:

    Why is it that F1 teams have to fold while football clubs can rack up debt and in some cases continue to spend big? Looking at the Premier League mid table teams like Stoke can compete in relative safety while in debt why can’t the same mechanism be in place in F1?

  25. goggomobil says:

    Who cares whether Caterham F1,Marussia and to some extend Sauber fells of the bed, there were there believing in song and dance of Frankie going to Hollywood,we are living in mordern times , to be successful in anything it takes a money, real money and that includes your wife,that ‘s right your wife,girlfriend,mistress,those who believe otherwise are blowing to the wind!
    Money makes money a fact of life,don’t be envious of Bernie Elcconstone he may be a 5 ft + but he deserve 7 footer all day long, just look the woman past and present around him.
    I say let the introduction of the third car begin like they used to have in real motor racing days,lift this crappy restrictions and reguations of and let the briliant minds of engineering show their ware!

  26. Rupert Suren says:

    When you combine ignorance and leverage, you get some pretty interesting results

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