Hispania Racing owner Jose Ramon Carabante has admitted that he could be prepared to sell a majority stake in the F1 backmarker, as rumours suggest that a Korean consortium is looking to buy in.
While insisting that he would not want to relinquish complete interest in the team he helped rescue when it threatened to fall apart as Campos Meta ahead of the 2010 F1 season, the Spanish businessman concedes that he may need to hand over a large part of his holding in order to secure its future. Italiaracing.net
reports that Carabante has already entered talks with the Koreans, but believes that, at present, 'the amount requested is apparently quite high'.
"We are talking with investors, but what I don't want is to sell the team and disappear," he told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser
, "It's okay if someone comes with an offer to have the majority and I'm left with a stake. Right now, there are teams worth E40, 60, 70m, depending on how they finish the championship - there are twelve teams and we are one of them."
The view is slightly different to that which Carabante put out as recently as December, when he insisted that he would not hand over control of the team to another party.
“Better times will come,” he insisted then, “We are negotiating with partners either as investors or sponsors. But I have never thought about selling. I will always keep 51 per cent [ownership].”
Neither Vitantonio Liuzzi or Narain Karthikeyan qualified for the 2011 season-opener in Australia, and completed only a few laps in the new F111 after failing to complete any in pre-season testing. Team boss Colin Kolles, however, remains confident that new parts, notably a nose and front wing, will bring better performance at Sepang this weekend.
The F111 may have an eye-catching new livery, but all the colours in the world cannot disguise the fact that it has precious few sponsors, and Carabante admits that the team is struggling with a budget that is not up to the job of carrying it through a competitive campaign.
“We were closing on agreements that, in the end, did not come [to fruition]," he explained, admitting that the amount raised was actually less than in 2010, "So we set a realistic goal with the budget that we had.
"In F1 these days, there is no need to spend E5-10m," he said, "You can come in with E1m or 500,000. You go to large companies in [Spain] and tell them that, with their support, you can have the car of Toyota, the use of their facilities and be in the top eight from time to time, but they don't support you. We have a Spanish team which would [have been] even more Spanish with a driver like Pedro de la Rosa, but the companies did not come in."