Caterham up for sale, Fernandes out of F1? (5th Update)

UPDATE #5 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

07/01/14 A Swiss-Middle Eastern consortium is understood to be behind the takeover of Caterham F1, in a deal that will be confirmed in the coming days.

It’s believed that the consortium members, including interests from Dubai, intend to keep a low profile. The deal was brokered by a former F1 insider who will retain a role as an advisor.

As previously revealed here current team principal Cyril Abiteboul is expected to return to Renault’s Viry engine division with the full support of Red Bull. His initial task will be to give the beleaguered organization some direction as it prepares to upgrade the current engine for 2015.

A new team principal and new technical direction will be installed at Caterham’s Leafield base, and it’s understood that their brief will be to improve the efficiency of the team – and try to ensure that it finishes in the top 10 of this year’s World Championship.

The Caterham name will be retained, as there are no plans to request a change for 2015 and beyond. The team will also continue to use Renault engines. Adam Cooper

07/01/14 (GMM) Ever since team founder and main backer Tony Fernandes departed Twitter with the message "F1 hasn't worked", Caterham has been officially silent.

The back-of-the-grid team did say Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto will drive the green car in the post-Silverstone test, but otherwise the lack of noise from Caterham has been filled up with speculation.

"I will be 100 per cent ready to work to the plan the team set and help them develop as best I can," Haryanto, who also drives for Caterham's GP2 team, said.

But now, team sources are spilling the beans behind the scenes.

Multiple reports have the details about Fernandes' falling out of love with F1 amid spiraling costs and the lack of results.

Veteran Swiss journalist Roger Benoit says he has heard that Fernandes, the Malaysian entrepreneur best known for the low-cost airline Airasia, will front Caterham's staff at the factory in Leafield on Tuesday.

There, Benoit wrote in the Blick newspaper, staff will be told that Caterham has been "sold to a consortium of Arab businessmen in Switzerland".

He said Fernandes, now enamored with his newly premiership-qualified football club Queens Park Rangers, is particularly dismayed that F1 consistently failed to implement the budget cap he was promised from the start in 2010.

Team sources also claim that Caterham will make the news public before the British grand prix, adding that team boss Cyril Abiteboul will return to his former F1 employer, French engine supplier Renault.

Having hitched his wagon to a losing horse, and with the GP2 team to be severed from the F1 team, American Alexander Rossi's hopes of landing an F1 ride now rest with Gene Haas' American team

06/30/14 Sources have suggested that a final decision on selling the team will likely be made this week – with an announcement possible before the Caterham team arrives at Silverstone for this weekend's British GP.

Although former F1 team principal Colin Kolles has emerged as the leading contender to conclude a deal with Fernandes, sources with good knowledge of the situation suggest that there are at least three other interested parties who remain in talks.

Kolles was last involved as an F1 team principal at the end of 2011, having run the Hispania outfit for its first two years in grand prix racing.

He has however more recently been involved in plans for a new Romanian team called Forza Rossa, which is hoping to get on the grid next year.

Caterham's current 11th position in the constructors' championship means it is at risk of losing valuable commercial rights income at the end of the year unless it can overhaul Sauber and Marussia.

Only the F1 team is affected by the sale talks, with Fernandes set to retain ownership of Caterham Cars and the Caterham GP2 team. Yahoo Eurosport

06/27/14 Usually impeccable Will Buxton source reckons Caterham is about to be bought by a very familiar name – Ross Brawn.

06/27/14 Tony Fernandes has dropped the biggest hint yet that Caterham F1 Team is set to be sold following a series of cryptic tweets sent out yesterday.

Speculation about the sale of the team has been rife for some time, but Fernandes has stringently denied any claims that he was about to let go of the Caterham brand. As well as the Formula 1 team, he also owns the Caterham Cars program, Caterham Racing GP2 team and Caterham Moto Racing team in the Moto 2 motorcycle class.

Fernandes was reported to be chasing a sum close to $600m for the F1 team and Caterham cars project last month. Despite constant denials, in the final few tweets from his account before he deleted it, the Malaysian businessman in a reflective mood.

“Goodbye all," he tweeted. “Maybe I return. Been fun. And damn useful. Speak the truth be brave. Dare to dream, believe the unbelievable and never take no for an answer. Stand up for what you believe, fight oppression and most important enjoy life."

However, the stand-out tweet simply read: “F1 hasn’t worked but love Caterham cars."

After constantly denying that the team would be sold, it appears that Fernandes has finally accepted defeat.

That said, it may only be the F1 arm of his motorsport interests that are sold, with this being by far the most costly. The GP2 and Moto 2 teams could continue to exist under his AirAsia brand, although plans for these are still unknown.

Fernandes has been bitten by a changing of the times in Formula 1. When he entered the sport with Caterham – then known as Lotus Racing – back in 2010, plans were being drawn up for a cost-cap that would allow teams to run on a figure close to $50m per year. Just as we are seeing some four years later though, there is a reluctance from the bigger teams to help the smaller ones.

Caterham entered the sport at the same time as Marussia and HRT, with the latter folding in 2012. Up until the end of 2013, it was the leading backmarker squad, but has since fallen behind Marussia after the Anglo-Russian team became the first to score any points in Monaco last month. It is thought that a number of buyers are interested in purchasing the team from Fernandes.

According to NBCSN’s Will Buxton, some Russian companies reportedly showed interest in Caterham, and could be in line to move into Fernandes’ office should he officially sell up and leave Leafield. nbc sports

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