Confusion over future of Caterham F1 team
LONDON (AP) — Confusion surrounds the future of struggling Formula One team Caterham amid a legal dispute between the old and new owners ahead of next week’s United States Grand Prix.
A strongly worded Caterham statement on behalf of a Swiss and Middle Eastern consortium that took over the team in June from Tony Fernandes threatened action against the Malaysian tycoon.
The Engavest consortium says Fernandes, along with two other former owners, have failed to transfer shares that would guarantee their purchase of the team, and so have withdrawn all management.
Fernandes, who runs airline AirAsia and English Premier League club Queens Park Rangers, has effectively been informed he is again in charge, four months after seemingly ending his involvement with Caterham.
Fernandes wrote on Twitter: “If you buy something you should pay for it. Quite simple.”
Caterham responded on Thursday by saying Engavest “has fulfilled all the conditions precedent, including paying the purchase price for the shares. The shares have not been transferred and therefore Mr. Fernandes remains the owner of Caterham F1 and is fully responsible for all its activities.”
In another statement released later Thursday, Engavest said it had a “total contempt of Mr. Fernandes and his group executives with whom we entered a deal in good faith.” Also, it alleged that a Caterham Group representative broke into a filing cabinet containing private and confidential documents owned by Engavest.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone described the situation as a “little bit too complicated” to be certain of the status of Caterham’s leadership.
“We’re trying to help in any way we can, which we do with anybody that has run into a bit of difficulty,” Ecclestone told the BBC.
It has been a chaotic few months since the consortium took control, with 30 staff cut in a restructuring. Team principal Christian Albers resigned in September after just two months in charge, and was replaced by assistant Manfredi Ravetto.