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Caterham’s Fernandes says he could walk away from F1

Jan 21, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

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It has been, literally, a pointless existence in Formula One for Caterham. Entering its fifth season in the world’s most popular motorsport, the Tony Fernandes-owned team has gone through three guises (Lotus Racing in 2010, Team Lotus in 2011, Caterham since 2012) but has scored no World Championship points.

And that has Fernandes, also the owner of English soccer team Queens Park Rangers and low-cost airline AirAsia, agitated to the point that he’s seriously contemplating pulling out of F1.

“If we are at the back, I don’t think we’re going to carry on,” he said today according to Reuters after Caterham announced the signing of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson as their 2014 race drivers.

“After five years and to get no points, there’s a limit to everyone’s patience, money, etc.”

For a team that’s coming off of losing out to Marussia last year for a valuable Top 10 spot in the constructor’s championship, Fernandes’ words will only increase the pressure to perform in 2014, a year that could see a shakeup in the pecking order with the debut of new V-6 engines and other technical regulations.

Caterham, in its first brand of Lotus Racing, was one of several teams that entered the sport in 2010 alongside Virgin Racing (now Marussia) and Hispania (later HRT).

Since that point, Caterham and Marussia have carried on but have each failed to score points. HRT faded away after the 2012 season, they too having gone pointless in their three-year run.

It hasn’t helped that Fernandes’ team lacks the major financial resources of the teams on the front end of the grid, and in that regard, he told Reuters that the sport “has to examine itself,” saying that no progress is made when a team shows up and is “two seconds behind everyone else.”

Nonetheless, Fernandes is confident his team can move forward despite his apparent threat to leave the sport.

“I am saying these things with the confidence that I think we will deliver,” he said. “I would not be here otherwise. But I am also being real that if we don’t…I don’t think anyone in this office expects us to carry on being last. But we are fairly confident that we should see some progress.”

  1. worknman24hours - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    Definitely valid thought process.

    Money spent with no return means no more money spent.

  2. redrock81 - Jan 25, 2014 at 4:29 AM

    The problem with smaller teams like Caterham is that they just don’t have the money to spend as the bigger teams do.

    However, smaller teams are important to the sport. They may not win championships but they are a great start for up-and-coming talents (both drivers and engineers). Not a lot of F1 drivers can buy their seat in F1. A lot of good drivers have started their careers in smaller teams like Caterham. Fernando Alonso made his debut with Minardi and it was in a Minardi that he impressed the other team bosses.

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