1 May 2013
QPR relegation won't harm Caterham's F1 survival
The Caterham F1 team will not be affected by QPR's relegation from the Premier League, despite common ownership.
Caterham sources insist that the F1 backmarker won't be affected by the problems afflicting Tony Fernandes' other sporting plaything, London football club Queens Park Rangers.
QPR saw its latest Premier League dream ended by a dire 0-0 draw with fellow relegation strugglers Reading at the weekend, but dropping back into the relative obscurity of the Championship division will not have a wider negative effect, according to staff at the Leafield-based F1 operation.
Although QPR will receive 'parachute payments' to ease its exit from the top flight of UK football, it will take a financial hit from missing out on the money pool provided by television revenue next season. The club, which spent heavily at the start of the 2012-13 season in order to ensure its survival in the division, is currently saddled with a massive wage bill, which will have to be addressed before life in the Championship begins next September.
Despite that, however, the F1 team – which is still chasing its maiden point after three seasons under Fernandes' control – will remain unaffected. Fernandes gave up team principal duties at Caterham at the end of the 2012 campaign in order to focus more of his already divided attention on QPR.
“The two businesses have always been run separately, so QPR's relegation will not affect the F1 team,” an 'insider' told Britain's Sun newspaper, “We would never look at the money reportedly spent on the football club and think that should be matched with us, or at Tony's airline, AirAsia, because the money comes from different pots.”
Caterham, which has been forced to take on the well-backed Giedo van der Garde this season, showed signs of improvement at the recent Bahrain Grand Prix, and is expected to bring a first major update to its CT03 at next weekend's Spanish round in Barcelona. The team has also reinstated former racer Heikki Kovalainen to a test and development role, which it hopes will help it overcome the renewed challenge being presented by Marussia, and maybe sneak a point before the end of the year.
Caterham and Marussia held tentative merger talks during the off-season, amid speculation that neither was healthy enough to survive alone. Now, with F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone again suggesting that he favours ten teams in F1's future, a similar scenario may arise in the coming months but, for now, both teams remain rivals.
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