Hopes for a return of the Marussia and Caterham teams to the Formula 1 grid in 2015 have been dealt severe blows.
Marussia had hoped to compete this season under a new name – its 2015 entry is listed as Manor F1 Team. But, having missed the last three races of last season and effectively closing its doors, the team would have no time to design and build a new car by the season-opening Australian Grand Prix next month.
As such, the Banbury-based squad requested that it be allowed to use modified versions of its 2014 cars. Several safety-related regulations were changed for 2015, in particular new rules on the height of the front bulkhead, which would be impossible to meet with a 2014 car.
F1’s governing body, the FIA, required unanimous consent from the other teams for Marussia to use its old car. But Force India rejected the application, deputy team principal Bob Fearnley telling the BBC it “lacked substance.”
He added: “Given the lack of information, uncertain guarantees, and speculative nature of the application, the decision was taken that it is better to focus on ensuring the continued participation of the remaining independent teams.”
Force India is understood to be the only team that vetoed the move, but it’s believed other teams weren’t happy about it, either.
Caterham’s chances of reaching the 2015 grid were also set back when administrator Finbarr O’Connell announced that the Leafield team’s assets would be put up for auction. Administrators Smith & Williamson were called in last October, amid a dispute over ownership of the team and, therefore, who responsible for its debt. Some 200 were made redundant as a result.
Caterham missed the US and Brazilian Grand Prix last season, but raced at the season-closer in Abu Dhabi thanks to a crowd funding campaign.
The auctions have been set for March, April and May. The first, on March 11, will include the 2014 chassis’. But the sales will be called off if a buyer can be found before that date. Mr O’Connell told BBC Radio Oxford: “The team is still for sale. I’ve had meetings with two parties today. They’re not advanced enough for my liking.”
“But the next person believes they’re going to convince me they’ve got the wherewithal to buy the team.”
Should a buyer be found, however, they will face the same problem as Marussia, which would probably force them to sit out the 2015 season. And if they did, there’s no guarantee they would be given an entry for 2016.
The Australian Grand Prix takes place on March 15. For more information click here.