The owners of the Caterham F1 Team could be forced to turn their back on the sport as a result of the alleged actions of former boss Tony Fernandes.
In a statement on its website, the Caterham team said: “On 29 June 2014, Caterham Enterprises Ltd, Caterham (UK) Ltd and Sheikh Mohamed Nasarudin (Seller) and their shareholders Tony Fernandes and Datuk Manarudin Bin Merandun entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Engavest SA (Buyer) with regards to 1Malaysia Racing Team Sdn Bhd/Caterham F1 Team.”
“Since the date of the Agreement, the Seller has refused to comply with its legal obligations to transfer their shares to the Buyer.”
Translated, that means the team’s previous investors, led by Fernandes, have failed to transfer ownership of the team to new owners Engavest, a Swiss/Middle East consortium.
Fernandes still owns Caterham Group, the Surrey-based company that builds the Seven road car and its many derivatives.
The statement goes on: “The Buyer has been left in the invidious position of funding the team without having legal title to the team it had bought.”
The matter has come to a head as administrators have been called into Caterham Sports Limited (CSL), the company that builds cars for Caterham F1 Team.
From the statement: “The Administrators of Caterham Sports Limited have been appointed on behalf of Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Berhad (Exim), a creditor of Mr Fernandes and the Caterham Group. The Buyer has no connection with Exim.”
In other words, because Fernandes has not transferred his shares in Caterham F1 to Engavest, his own creditors are entitled to seize CSL, which is still among his assets. On 3 October, a press release stated Fernandes and Caterham Group no longer has any connection with Caterham F1 Team.
The F1 Team’s statement goes on to claim that the administrator’s appointment has had “devastating effects” on their activities. Motorsport News tweeted today (23 October) from its @MNewsRacing account that staff had been locked out of the team’s Leafield base by the administrators. As such, Caterham’s participation in the remainder of the 2014 Formula 1 season, which continues on 2 November at the US Grand Prix in Texas, is under threat.
“The Buyer is now forced to explore all its options including the withdrawal of its management team,” the statement says. Without management, the F1 Team would be unable to compete at all.
Negotiations between the the various parties are ongoing; the administrator has said that if an agreement can’t be reached, the assets of CSL will have to be sold.
Caterham entered F1 in 2010 as Team Lotus, one of three new teams to join the grid that year. In five seasons, the team has failed to score any points, with a best finish of 11th. It is currently tied with Sauber at the bottom of the 2014 points table.
Read the full statement here