With the passing of HRT there’s always someone at the bottom looking up. Had this been 2012 (minus HRT) we may be suggesting Marussia were the team most fitting that profile. Yet for a number of reasons Caterham appear to be the F1 team where little is expected in the near future and who may be somewhat in disarray if comments made by team members to TJ13 in Jerez were to be believed.
Tony Fernandes has spent fortunes on English Premier League team QPR and it appears with no avail because they are favourites to be relegated this year from top flight football. He used to take great delight in his F1 team, but his twitter comments have been silent with reference to Caterham for many months now.
The media since Barcelona have been consistently reporting that the Caterham F1 car will be simply not competitive until they bring their ‘European’ upgrades to Barcelona and rumours in the paddock are rife that having lost interest in his Formula One project, Fernandes may just shut it down in the near future.
Late last year the inevitable occurred when Fernandes stepped down as team principal and Cyril Abiteboul was brought in to run the Leafield outfit. This together with the decision to replace the highly rated Heikki Kovalainen with a second pay to drive pilot for 2013 was seen by many as an acknowledgement that Caterham is unlikely to ever make the giant leap from the back even to the middle of the grid.
Today Riad Asmat, Caterham Chief Executive, dismissed all the rumours stating, “If I remember correctly, our alleged demise has been reported about since we came into Formula One in 2010.” He told Speed Week that the investments we have already made for the new turbo era is clear evidence Caterham has no intention of pulling out of Formula 1.
“Why would we spend money like that if we’re closing down?” the Malaysian retorted. “Formula One is part of a larger picture of our business model and a fundamental part of the complete philosophy. That is the second reason why the rumours of a withdrawal are nonsense. Caterham is staying this year, next year and for many more years.”
Caterham announced CNN are continuing within the fold of partners.
“Our partnership with Caterham F1 Team provides CNN with a powerful worldwide marketing platform and we’re delighted to continue the alliance of two aspirational global brands,” said Rani R. Raad, Chief Commercial Officer for CNN International. “As a forward thinking company this sponsorship plays to the heart of what CNN is all about, engaging new audiences and exploring new affiliations beyond the traditional or the expected.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal, Caterham F1 Team, said: “This partnership will provide us with a comprehensive platform allowing us to deliver additional exposure for the team and its sponsors through CNN media platforms worldwide. We also look forward to welcoming CNN and their partners to the races to further promote F1, Caterham F1 Team and develop real B2B opportunities.”
As TJ13 suggested over winter the team will struggle badly in 2013 and indeed the green goddesses lined up dead last on the Melbourne grid last Sunday and Caterham was the only team whose drivers both finished the race two laps down. What message will that send to CNN viewers?
It does make sense that Fernandes would try to sell the team rather than simply close the doors, yet like Vijay’s Force India the team is heavily reliant on its owner for finance as sponsors contribute not too much. So when is enough… enough?