I mentioned Caterham F1 and the reality that faces the team in an interview I did for Talksport in the UK last Saturday and the reason it came up had more to do with football than Formula 1.

Team owner Tony Fernandes also own Queens Park Rangers (QPR) and they made it to the Premier league last weekend which garnered an 80 million Pound payoff. Fernandes had even touted the joy of owning a football club over the headaches of an F1 team earlier this spring when he gave the team an ultimatum that they deliver this year or that would be the end of it.

Speculation has ramped up now that QPR are doing well and Caterham are not. Some suggested that American businessman Gene Haas may be inclined to buy the team instead of rolling his own now that he’s been accepted into F1 for 2015. Haas, as well as Caterham boss Cyril Abiteboul, says that isn’t the case.

Rumors continue to circulate that the team has been officially put on the “for sale” block and I noticed that report at ESPN’s F1 website today. In response, Caterham have taken to Facebook to tell their side of the story. Caterham’s full statement is as follows:

Despite press rumours to the contrary, Caterham Group is not for sale. The reports circulating this weekend are factually incorrect. It is, however, true that the Group is actively searching for additional investment as it seeks to fulfil ambitious plans to develop.

The shareholders of the Group, co-Chairmen Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, remain wholly committed to the Caterham brand.

Fernandes confirmed: “The Caterham Group is not for sale. We love what we build and we are always looking for further investment. This is no different to how we started AirAsia. Yes, we are constantly challenging ourselves and making decisions on everything from the structure to projects within the Group. That is normal business. That does not mean we are selling.”

So there you have it—investor yes, sale, no.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Do you take Caterham’s release at face value?

    To me, it sounds as if it’s trying to make the road car proposition more attractive from a sales standpoint as it packages the entire group in sale. From the earlier rumors, Fernandez wanted a sale on total; as Caterham cars’s equity stems solely from brand recognition and tooling rather than technology or market-share/profitabliity, delaying sale rumors as it enhances brand image seems a savvy move.

    As I mentioned before, Caterham’s F1 infrastructure would be an easier sell alone than saddled w/ the rest of Caterham Group; I think its sale happens before season’s end.

    • Not sure, Jeff. I can say that ESPN quoted a Malaysian news source on the story so how much credence you put into that is up to you. I tend to think everything is for sale in F1. :)

      • Rick T

        If we really can take Fernandez for his word, and he isn’t a guy that normally takes a back step on a decision, it can only mean better things for the grid. Surly seeing two new cars on the circuit is better then re-branding an already existing team.
        Hass racing have some big decisions and very little time to make them.

        I for one welcome this even if it is a shallow statement by Fernandez.

      • Indeed, I too think “what are you offering me?” applies in F1, excepting Mclaren and Ferrari.

        I just hope whatever the iteration, that team, and all others, enter/remain w/ long term, realistic goals. A budget plan, infrastructure build up, staffing decisions, sport strategies… This isn’t a “one man’s vision” game, as sporting/marketing stratification in the established front runners is showing. Fernandez’ team has always struck me as lacking vertical clarity on the sporting side, whereas Marussia is the opposite. As I understand the latter slightly more (I think), I appreciate Marussia more. Unfortunate, as Fernandez seems a likable fellow, knowledgeable with F1’s economic realities (unrealistic 2010 cost levelers aside.)

  • The Imperative Voice

    Worth pointing out that the Caterham Group is the holding company a rung above Caterham F1, Cars, Bikes, etc. So read literally he denied they are selling Group but not F1. They are looking for investment and that might be F1 investment and that might involve ceding some control while maintaining an equity stake.