Colin Kolles will secure Caterham’s Formula One future – but it might be a painful journey
Colin Kolles has vowed to sort out the mess at Hingham-backed Caterham – but jobs may go as part of the Formula One team’s restructuring.
Tony Fernandes and his fellow shareholders completed their sale of the struggling constructor to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors before the weekend’s British Grand Prix – in time for the team’s new advisor Kolles, and team principal Christijan Albers to see first-hand where the Leafield-based team are at.
“I think we have made a lot of progress – but there will be more changes, more things to be done,” said Kolles. “I prefer to have 200 safe jobs than 300 lost jobs.
“Sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions. But believe me, I think certain people know and understand that changes have to be done and that it cannot continue like this. It’s impossible.”
There was no immediate improvement in Caterham’s fortunes at Silverstone, as they continue to appear cut adrift at the back of the Formula One grid following Marussia’s significant step forward this year.
But there were visible changes, as branding associated with Fernandes’ AirAsia airline was stripped off the cars, along with that of General Electric, Airbus and a string of Fernandes-owned businesses.
“I am not here as a charity – what you see there is reality,” said the 46-year-old Romanian-born German Kolles. “A lot has been resolved within three days. We still have creditors to sort out, who are normal trade creditors. This is what we are trying to do. To bring everything to calm waters. The team should be here for many more years. This is the target.
“It’s not a question of surviving or not surviving. I think the team will survive. The question is at what level? It’s not only about sorting out creditors. In parallel you have to put it financially straight, you have to restructure the whole company because it is a mess and you have to put upgrades on the car and find the best performing driver/car package.”
Kolles confirmed Caterham would remain a Renault-powered team and at Leafield factory “for the moment”, while the current driver line-up of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson – both of whom provide significant funding for their seat – seems unlikely to change.
“In terms of performance we have to look into this – and we are looking into this,” added Kolles.
“I don’t want to spread rumours around because it makes no sense. I had meetings with the management and drivers. I think I am always transparent.
“The last driver I sacked out of Formula One was Christijan Albers – and he’s now my team principal. This should give you a taste of how I deal with people.”