27 June 2014
Caterham boss Fernandes admits ‘F1 hasn’t worked’
Social media comments fire speculation that Caterham F1 owner Tony Fernandes is about to offload the Leafield operation.
Speculation concerning the future of the Caterham F1 team has been sparked once more after owner Tony Fernandes shut down his popular Twitter account, but not before declaring that 'F1 didn't work'.
Despite insisting that he was not about to do anything hasty in the wake of F1 rival Marussia scoring points in Monaco, the AirAsia entrepreneur has offered another hint to perpetuate the rumour he is seeking an exit from the top flight, following a series of Twitter posts that preceded the abrupt closure of his social media account.
Amongst those tweets was one concerning his struggling F1 team, Fernandes bowing out with the message 'F1 hasn't worked but love Caterham cars', suggesting that while he may be prepared to forsake the top flight, he would hold on to the road-going arm of the Caterham operation, which he has expanded in recent years and appears to be in good health.
When contacted by Crash.net, a team representative declined to comment on the situation.
The Malaysian opened the 2014 campaign by telling his team that it needed to show improved performance if he was to continue justifying his involvement in the grand prix scene and, having seen the cost of competing spiral well above the $40m budget cap he thought he was signing up to, Jules Bianchi's ninth place in Monaco seemed to be another nail in Caterham's coffin as Marussia became the first of F1's class of 2010 to break its duck
At the time, Fernandes - who also owns English Premier League club Queens Park Rangers - claimed that he remained committed to the cause, but the series of enigmatic Twitter posts on Thursday [26 June] suggests an about-turn could be imminent.
“Maybe I return,” he claimed in a previous tweet, “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.”
Should Caterham disappear – and paddock rumours suggest that there has already been interest in the team from both new and existing F1 parties –it would leave Marussia as the sole remainder of F1's 2010 expansion, with fellow 'newcomer' HRT having fallen by the wayside two seasons ago. Gene Haas, who intends to enter F1 in 2016 with a US-based operation, has already said that he sees no benefit in buying up an existing team to act as a foundation.
As well as the F1 team, Fernandes also oversees motorsport programmes in GP2 and motorcycle racing's Moto2 category, while Caterham runs a driver development academy that encompasses talent such as Alexander Rossi, Will Stevens and Matt Parry, but his plans for these remain clouded.
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