Caterham are set to miss the US and Brazilian Grands Prix after the administrators now running the squad revealed that Bernie Ecclestone has given permission for it to sit out the next two rounds of the F1 championship.
This morning the management team led by Colin Kolles stepped back from running the team and handed control to administrators at London-based accountancy firm Smith & Williamson. This afternoon the firm confirmed that the team has now been given “dispensation” to miss the next two grands prix while a buyer is sought.
The statement read: “In a telephone conversation today between Finbarr O’Connell and Bernie Ecclestone, Mr Ecclestone agreed to support the administrators in their wish to sell the Formula One team to a party with the financial strength to sustain it into the future.
“Mr Ecclestone also agreed to give dispensation to Caterham F1 such that it could, if necessary, miss the US and Brazilian Grands Prix, but hoped that a new owner would be in a position to race the team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“Mr Colin Kolles, the previous principal of the team, offered today to hand over management control of 1MRT to the administrators. Lawyers for the administrators and Mr Kolles are currently working on the paperwork to effect this transfer.
“The administrators have already been contacted by a number of interested parties expressing a wish to buy the team and they hope 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 they will be able to recommence their work including that at the Leafield site.”
While the absence of the team in Austin and Sao Paulo is a blow, the fact that the F1 team joins Caterham Sports Limited in the hands of the administrators might add to the possibility of a sale, with the package of the team and CSL representing a clear path to the F1 grid to a potential buyer.
In its statement Smith & Williamson said: “On this basis the administrators now have the ability to sell the Caterham Formula 1 Team including the operations at Leafield, Oxfordshire.”
Another administrator at the firm, Henry Shinners added: “This includes the Formula 1 licence, the racing cars, the designs and intellectual property for current and future seasons plus the workforce and all of the technical support provided to the racing team by CSL from the Leafield Technical Centre.
“Purchasing the assets would give the buyer ready access to F1 racing.”
Finbarr O’Connell, the S&W administrator now in charge of Caterham appeared to confirm that the team will not race at the Circuit of the Americas or in Interlagos by saying: “We believe this arrangement gives us a much better chance of being able to reach a better conclusion for the racing team and its creditors.
“While this is a great step forward in making the whole team and assets more attractive, there is no need for the staff of 1MRT to return to the Oxford site in Leafield until a sale of the Formula One team occurs.
‘This is a difficult situation which is not of our making. We regret any personal impact on 1MRT’s employees. As administrators for CSL we are seeking to maximise the outcome for its creditors and other stakeholders.”
O’Connell added, however, that he believes a sale is possible in the timescale provided.
“Our objective is to get this team racing on a proper financial standing, and hopefully if a funder comes through, this team can run again,” he said. “I have spoken to people who are interested in taking over the Leafield factory, and the staff being employed there.
“It’s early days, but there is a major hope that all of that can happen.”