News has just reached me that Caterham F1 and all their assets have been put up for sale. This is really sad news, and underlines the fundamental difficulties which new and younger teams face in the sport. Caterham and Marussia both suffered financial difficulties towards the end of the 2014 Formula 1 season and while there remains hope that Marussia will exit administration as early as 19th of February, Caterham won’t be joining the back-of-the-grid battle.
Why did this happen?
It’s difficult to say for sure, as there is rarely one single factor to which we can appoint the blame. The popular theory is, that the cost of the new hybrid engines introduced in 2014 far exceeded estimations and broke the budget. Another factor is the difficulties Caterham F1 have had in securing sponsorship deals, something which tends to become more difficult the more desperate the situation is. No one wants to buy a broken toy. Thirdly, some people point at Bernie Ecclestone as the culprit. Some feel he has not done enough to help the small teams and that he has favoured the big boys such as Ferrari, RedBull and McLaren with preferential treatment and special deals.
Is Bernie responsible?
The way I see it, he is the chief executive of the Formula One Group and I think it would be naive to say that he holds zero responsibility. But to go as far as to blame him directly is a step too far for me. In hindsight I’m sure there are things, which he’d have done differently and I just hope that changes will be made to help smaller teams in the sport, as they are an important component for driver development and provides great entertainment further down the grid.