The troubled Caterham F1 team, which has been in administration since October, has issued a statement saying that the team will race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after apparently being successful with their crowdfunding initiative.
The team’s statement read: “The Caterham F1 Team is delighted to announce that it will be racing at the final Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi next week thanks to the support of the fans, who have helped the team raise enough money.”
The objective is to complete the season, collect the US$10 million in prize money owing to the team and then attempt to use that platform of a team as a going concern to complete a sale.
The team has debts of around US$12-15 million, but has not gone into liquidation, as its rival Marussia team did. With Marussia no longer a going concern there will be discussions about whether Caterham therefore is classified 10th in the championship despite scoring no points, while Marussia was 9th with 2 points and in line for US$50 million in prize money as a result if it had kept going.
The last minute announcement before the freight has to leave Heathrow for Abu Dhabi, came about due to a driver contract being finalised, which brought with it the necessary funding to make up the shortfall from the crowd funding exercise which raised over half of the target £2.35 million needed to make the Abu Dhabi trip.
Renault is one of the main creditors, but sources in the French manufacturer implied to this site at the weekend that, if the team made it to Abu Dhabi, it would supply engines ‘for the good of the sport”
The joint administrator of Caterham Sports Limited Finbarr O’Connell, who appears to have dropped the ‘interim team principal’ he adopted in recent weeks said: “We set ourselves a major challenge, but it’s definitely been worth it! In only a week the fans have made the impossible, possible. We knew that the best way to keep this team alive and attract possible buyers was to show that it’s still a racing team and be in Abu Dhabi for the finale, and there aren’t enough words to say how grateful we are to all the fans that have made this possible.
“We now head to Abu Dhabi ready to show what a hard-working and positive group of people this is and to hopefully secure a future for the team,” he added. “During the past few days the interest of many potential buyers has increased massively and by racing in Abu Dhabi the team will be showcasing itself as a live and functioning team that deserves to continue into 2015 and beyond. It has hard-working people, team spirit and experience and now it only needs a secure financial future which I’m very hopeful we can achieve. Once again, I’d like to reiterate that we are racing in Abu Dhabi thanks to all the fans out there – an achievement that will go down in F1 history and one that we can all be very proud of. Let’s go racing!”
It remains to be seen who would race the team’s cars at the Yas Marina Circuit. Swede Marcus Ericsson this week severed all links with the team, while Kamui Kobayashi’s commitment is uncertain. Former GP3 driver Alice Powell has been mentioned as a possible driver but question marks remain over whether she would be able to obtain a superlicence in time.
Earlier today O’Connell told Reuters that a number of drivers are in the frame for seats, saying that he has had talks with a number of drivers, some with Formula One experience and others in need of a superlicence. He did not reveal any names.
O’Connell admitted that the team still needs to raise some funding to reach its goals but as teams begin to pack-up for the trip to the Yas Marina Circuit, it seems that for the moment beleaguered Caterham will be joining them.