Fernandes: If we are at the back, I don’t think we’re going to carry on

Tony Fernandes speaks to Caterham staff, including the team's new drivers

Tony Fernandes speaks to Caterham staff, including the team’s new drivers

Caterham owner Tony Fernandes warned on Tuesday that he could walk away from Formula 1 unless his tail-end team showed significant improvement this season and progressed up the field.

The Malaysian entrepreneur, who also runs Queens Park Rangers soccer club and the AirAsia airline, told reporters at the Caterham factory that there would be no point carrying on if the team remained uncompetitive.

“If we are at the back, I don’t think we’re going to carry on,” he said.

“After five years and to get no points, there’s a limit to everyone’s patience, money etc,” added Fernandes, who will have two new drivers this year in Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi and Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson.

Caterham came into the sport as Lotus Racing with two other new teams in 2010 when a budget cap was talked about but ultimately abandoned. None of the new kids on the block have scored points in four seasons and Spanish-based HRT folded at the end of 2012.

Since they arrived in F1 the Catrehma team have been backmarkers

Since they arrived in F1 the Catrehma team have been backmarkers

Last year, Caterham finished last of the 11 F1 teams while QPR were relegated from the Premier League.

Fernandes compared F1 unfavourably to football, saying that it was too predictable, too expensive, not exciting enough and with insufficient chances for underdogs to create an upset.

“The sport has to examine itself,” he declared.

“I think if we are going to every race and are not competing, two seconds behind everyone else, then we haven’t made any progress,” added the Malaysian, a fervent believer in the need for a cost cap.

“If we are not competing then we have got to seriously examine ourselves as to whether this makes sense.”

Tony Fernandes with Cyril Abiteboul

Tony Fernandes with Cyril Abiteboul

Fernandes said however that his words were not to be taken as an ultimatum and he was making a statement of intent because he believed Caterham would make the required progress at a time of huge technical change.

“I am saying these things with the confidence that I think we will deliver,” he said. “I would not be here otherwise. But I am also being real that if we don’t… I don’t think anyone in this office expects us to carry on being last.

“But we are fairly confident that we should see some progress.”

The sport is introducing a new V6 turbocharged engine this season, replacing the old V8, and reliability is a major concern – opening up the possibility that smaller teams could score points if others suffer failures.

“Me walking away would make a fairly large dent to the team, without sounding egotistical,” Fernandes said of the impact his departure would have.

Asked whether he could also walk away from QPR if they failed to secure a quick return to the Premier League from the Championship (second tier), he shook his head. “No, because we are making progress. Even if we don’t go up this season, we have made good progress.

“We have got to see progress. It’s the same for AirAsia. If AirAsia was still a two plane operation and losing tons of money every year, you’d have to say ‘Er, what’s the point of carrying on guys?’.” (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

Content on GrandPrix247.com by: staff & contributors, Reuters syndication, GMM service, Getty Images, Formula 1 teams, sponsors & organisations.

  • Eevel

    What a bad loser!

  • clive

    they asked teams to come in and talked of a cost cap, that was really never going to happen so they should of come in knowing this. the sport is getting boring, no fuel stops to mix things up, just, if your fastest on saturday, you will most likely win.

  • F1 sucks now

    With all the millions that mr. Fernandez has ( or may have ) and he can not take his suit to the dry cleaner ? truly I believe that F1 is in crisis , starting how it is represented by the owner of the teams

  • Jose

    Fernandez is making some good noise..The truth about what
    happened last season should be obvious to all..Time for Uncle
    Bernie and other wigs to makes some big changes money wise
    Maybe the grid should be reduced to 5 teams, cost cut in half,
    then maybe we will see some racing.
    F1 has become a boring, ho-hum procession of noise.

    Old Jose

  • fools

    You and Marussia should think alike. Nearly impossible for these guys to compete with the top 4 teams.

    Kobi isnt going to break 1.5 anyways. I dont know wtf he was thinking. Yeah he didnt need the money. Bullshit he did a fund-raiser 2 years ago. I like him as a driver but I wouldnt go to that team if they cant compete why water down your career? Stick with Ferrari a winning global brand.


    Kamui Kobayashi has thanked the fans who have tried to help save his Formula 1 career by backing a fundraising website.

    After losing his Sauber drive because he could not raise enough sponsorship money, Kobayashi has set up a ‘Kamui Support’ website where fans can donate money to help boost his funds