Fri, Jul 04, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Fernandes sells Caterham team

Reuters, LONDON

Tony Fernandes speaks during a press conference at French carmaker Renault in Paris in November 2012.

Photo: AFP

Malaysian aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes ended an unhappy Formula One adventure on Wednesday by selling his struggling Caterham team to a group of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors with former driver Christijan Albers at the helm.

The team announced in a statement ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix that they would continue to race as Caterham, from their existing factory at Leafield in central England, for the immediate future.

Dutch retired driver Albers, who competed in 46 grands prix with tail-end teams between 2005 and 2007, is to take over the day-to-day running of the team with the assistance of Manfredi Ravetto.

Albers replaces the departing Cyril Abiteboul, who was appointed principal by Fernandes at the end of 2012 when the AirAsia boss decided to step back and focus on other business interests.

Caterham said Romanian-born Colin Kolles, who was Albers’ principal when the Dutchman drove for the Midland and Spyker teams that became Force India, has been advising the consortium.

The sale ended a costly and ultimately failed foray into motor racing for Fernandes, whose main sporting interests have increasingly become focused on his Premier League soccer side Queens Park Rangers.

Fernandes heralded the end of his involvement when he closed down his Twitter account last week with “F1 hasn’t worked.”

He entered F1 in 2010.

In four-and-a-half seasons, Caterham have failed to score a single point, making them the only team on the current grid in that predicament, and this season has seen the car no more competitive.

In January, after announcing Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi and Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson as his drivers, he said F1 was too predictable, too expensive and not exciting enough with insufficient chances for underdogs to surprise.

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