Paddock magazine December 2014 / January 2015 Issue 70 - Page 74

SEASON REVIEW Caterham: It is all about the money! Who owns Caterham? Will the team race in 2015? These questions are only the tip of the iceberg. The situation at Caterham is a proper mess and the court cases look set to go on for years. In terms of racing, everything was quite clear in 2014. Caterham was by no means competitive. The new regulations only added insult to injury and not only the midfielders but also Marussia were too far ahead for the green cars. Four different drivers ended up sitting behind the wheel of Caterham’s CT05 during the 2014 Formula 1 season: Kamui Kobayashi, Marcus Ericsson, Andre Lotterer and Will Stevens. In the 17 Grands Prix attended by Caterham, these four drivers suffered altogether 12 retirements. The young Marcus Ericsson got the lion’s share of the “pay-driver” insults, but he also managed to record the best finish of a Caterham driver in the season – eleventh at the Monaco Grand Prix. In any other year, this would have gotten the team the tenth position in the Constructors’ Championship on countback, but the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix was also the race in which Marussia’s Jules Bianchi finished ninth. Yet, the headaches on the track were miniscule compared to what was going on in Leafield 74 behind the scenes. The team’s founder Tony Fernandes started the season with a strong warning that he had no motivation to continue funding a backmarker. As very early in the season, it became evident that Caterham would be stuck to the bottom of the field again, Fernandes’s energy turned towards finding a buyer for the F1 operation. The 2014 season appeared to be appropriate time to sell. Gene Haas (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner) and Forza Rossa (a Romanian road car importer) announced intentions to join the Formula 1 grid in 2015 or 2016. Taking up the management of Caterham, however, did not entice either party and Fernandes ended up selling 1 Malaysia Racing Team (the company behind Caterham’s F1 entry) to Engavest, a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern in vestors advised by Colin Kolles (former team principal of the bankrupt Hispania Racing F1 Team). Engavest’s tenure at Leafield started with the firing of 40 Caterham employers in July and the