21 January 2014
Fernandes: Caterham future hinges on 2014 F1 progress
'If we're at the back, I don't think we're going to carry on' – Tony Fernandes
Tony Fernandes says he is likely to walk away from Caterham if the team isn't making progress in 2014.
Since joining Formula One in 2010 as one of three new teams, Caterham – and under previous guises as Team Lotus – has failed to score a single world championship point. In 2013 it was beaten to tenth place in the constructors' championship by Marussia, the first time it has finished bottom of the standings.
After announcing a new driver line-up of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson for 2014, and with new regulations taking effect, Fernandes says Caterham has to display a step forward.
“If we're at the back, I don't think we're going to carry on,” Fernandes said. “After five years and getting no points; there's a limit to everyone's patience, money, etc. And the sport has to examine itself. I'll always talk directly and always say what I believe, but I'm in a fantastic position to see two sports: football [with Queens Park Rangers] and Formula One.
“Every week I go to a game nervous as hell, whether I'm playing Yeovil, Doncaster or Leicester. Football is unpredictable. It's no secret that every year people are paying more money to watch football, TV rights are growing, global audiences are growing etc. What are they doing right that we're not doing right?
“We spend all our time on how long the pipe is, KERS etc, but the racing stays the same. The three or four teams are there every week winning, there's no underdog that comes in.”
Asked what he meant by being at the back, Fernandes said: “If we're going to every race and we're not competing – we're two seconds behind everyone else – then we haven't made any progress.”
However, Fernandes clarified that he believes Caterham will make progress in the coming season.
“I'm saying these things with the confidence that we will deliver, I wouldn't be here otherwise. But I'm also being real that if we don't then I don't think anyone in this office expects us to carry on being last … we're fairly confident that we should see some progress.
“I was asked a question and I'm answering it as honestly as possible, but I'm also saying Formula One needs to look itself in the mirror and say 'Is this the sport we want? Is this going in the right direction when you compare ourselves with other sports?' We've talked long and hard about cost, it's time for some action.”
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