The two parties in the Caterham debacle have now descended to throwing accusations at one another, while the Administrator has impounded the cars and locked out the staff. By blocking the team from using the cars the Administrator is basically destroying what little value is left in the business. The staff is not going to hang around hoping that the team will be revived and everyone will be out looking for work with immediate effect. The good people will be snapped up. The good news is that the franchise is not owned by the insolvent company and as long as the holding company 1MRT remains solvent, the franchise will survive until March, when the first race of 2015 begins. However, that will only happen if someone lodges an entry with the FIA before November 1. And that will cost a considerable sum of money. The owner of the 1MRT franchise will need to do that, which appears to mean that Tony Fernandes and his partners (who wanted to get out of F1 at all costs in June) will have to invest more to keep the franchise alive. Given that they do not want to run a team and that they would, in any case, have to buy their assets back from the Administrator (once it is worked out who owns what), it is unlikely that they will do this.
If the Administrator will not allow the team to go to Austin, then he is hardly going to invest in an 2015 entry. However, the way things are going everything looks likely be locked up in a legal dispute for years to come, which will only serve to waste money and damage reputations. In consequence, unless something that moves the story forward emerges, I see no point in further comment on the matter.
One could say that it might be an idea for Bernie Ecclestone to buy the whole mess for a dollar, let the Administrator give the suppliers a nasty haircut and then buy the assets before giving the whole thing to someone to run next year. The franchise will survive until March next year, so long as someone makes an entry in the weeks ahead. If Ecclestone was to do this, the most likely person to get that job in this scenario would be… Colin Kolles.
Then perhaps the people behind Engavest (which is actually now called Caterham CF1 Grand Prix Holding SA) can prove that they do have money to run a team and were not paying because the shares had not been signed over.
However, when you stop and think about it, it would probably be more efficient to let it die. The Formula One group needs only 20 cars to keep the FIA happy. Without competition for 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship, the F1 spending “arms race” can now stop for the next two years, at least in the midfield. As the demise of Caterham will create a sort of unofficial budget cap because the lack of an 11th team means that all the small teams at the back can back off on spending because their prize money is no longer under any threat. Not having an 11th team means that the pressure is off and all they need to do is turn up with a couple of cars to make up the numbers. This will give them time to repair their finances and prepare for the future. Haas will (in principle) turn up in 2016 but the rewards structures in F1 means they the new team will not be eligible for prize money until the end of 2017, at the earliest, and in any case the new team is unlikely to get anywhere close to the others for a while, so the tail-end teams will get at least two full seasons to cruise and collect before they need to ramp up performance in 2017 just in case Haas is competitive. Thus if Bernie was looking to help anyone, it would be helping Marussia, Sauber and the others to sort out their messes, getting new investment in place and moving on… It is not quite “start and park” but it is the same principle.
Ironically, the demise of Caterham would also mean that the rival teams will all have a guaranteed value, of at least $90 million and that means that their franchises are suddenly worth more than a token sum…
Strange world we live in.