January 31 2015 Latest news:
Michael Bailey, Formula One correspondent
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
It feels like every other column I’ve written this season has revolved around Caterham’s woes – something which appeared to reach its low point at the end of last week with Tony Fernandes’ latest unsettling stab in the dark.
• Pole position – Toro Rosso: The sister Red Bull team and Renault have been cleared of any wrongdoing after they carried out an indoor engine test earlier this year.
• Stalling – Sergio Perez: Continues to take stick for his crash with Felipe Massa in Canada – now Romain Grosjean has joined those calling for the Mexican to accept his mistakes, or they won’t stop.
Firstly, the idea of Fernandes not being on Twitter seems ridiculous given how much of an evangelist he was initially.
Be it communicating with customers, resolving customer service complaints, doing business, delivering messages or speaking to race and football fans – the Malaysian businessman loved it.
For him to leave is the business equivalent of Stephen Fry following suit for the celebrity world.
But then, maybe the way he did it proved why he loved it: a short word-bomb that left an entire sport expecting change.
"F1 hasn’t worked. Love Caterham cars…"
As it is, Hingham’s F1 team now seems set to see its Norfolk links broken with the constructors’ sale – with news possibly coming before this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, just a handful of miles down the road from the team’s Leafield base.
Caterham’s GP2 team – still based at Leafield – along with the composite, cars and engineering divisions partially based at Hingham would continue under Fernandes’ stewardship.
The team line-up in Formula One is set to change over the coming years, with new teams expected to join and existing teams under financial threat. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has already made it clear no one will be bailed out.
Former HRT team principal Colin Kolles looks set to be involved in Caterham’s new era through a new Romanian team called Forza Rossa – although other parties remain in contention too.
And ultimately, a wretched year so far for the Norfolk marque will continue to be overwhelmingly unsettled – until some more calming news arrives than a six-word tweet.
(Ed: Column written for the newspaper ahead of Caterham’s sale announcement 24 hours later).
• So Formula One returns home this weekend – well, that’s what most F1 fans in Great Britain like to say.
It’s nice that the controversy around Silverstone’s future and the British Grand Prix having a fitting home is over – even if the UK’s race does seem to attract controversy on the track: be it disgruntled number-two drivers, exhaust-blown diffusers or last year’s repeated tyre failures. What does 2014 have in store?
Lewis Hamilton was the last home winner, back in 2008 with McLaren. Surely Lewis has a brilliant chance – having been denied by that tyre blowout – of making up for that in his Mercedes on Sunday.