You might have thought that the Caterham
F1 team, currently sitting dead last in the standings without a single championship point to its name, had already hit rock bottom and couldn't sink any lower. But apparently it has. As we reported just recently
, Caterham Sports Limited – the factory that produces the F1 cars that the team fields in the FIA Formula One World Championship
– was facing bankruptcy. And now, it seems, the team itself could fall apart as well.
The issue appears to revolve around an ownership dispute. Several months ago, Caterham boss Tony Fernandes sold the team to an independent consortium. But according to the new owners, Fernandes has failed to actually transfer ownership. As a result, the management team is threatening to walk if they don't actually get control of the team they claim to have bought. The team recently changed its senior leadership
just months after taking it over from Fernandes, and has been switching drivers back and forth
between veteran Kamui Kobayashi and three-time Le Mans winner André Lotterer.
For its part, the Caterham Group headed by Tony Fernandes asserts that the ownership transfer of the F1 team was contingent on the new owners paying its staff and creditors, something which the automaker asserts the team has failed to do. Reached for comment, Fernandes said: "If you agree to buy a business, you must pay its bills. They have breached that promise and now, sadly, it is others such as the employees and the fans of the Caterham F1 team that will suffer if the team ceases to race."
"We genuinely believed, at the time, that the sale of the team was the best route for the staff and creditors of the Company, as we felt it secured its long term future," added Caterham Group CEO Graham Macdonald. "However, it appears to me that they never had any intention of paying these liabilities."
The ownership dispute only serves to further endanger the team's future viability. But with other parties vying for a spot on the grid, we're sure the team could sell its license easily enough. The only question is over who would get the proceeds. Scroll on down
to read the statements from both parties.