Fernandes sells Caterham stake
Tony Fernandes has finally brought the curtain down on his troubled ownership of Formula 1 team Caterham.
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After four and a half years on the F1 grid without a point to their name, and after spending more than £250million on the organisation, Fernandes has sold Caterham to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors.
Under the terms of the sale, the team will continue to race as Caterham F1 Team and will remain at their current base in Leafield for the foreseeable future.
The team is to be advised by Colin Kolles, who has previously been involved in F1 with Midland, Spyker, Force India, and most recently was team principal of HRT prior to their closure after three years.
The 46-year-old Romanian has been linked with Forza Rossa, a team from his home country that was recently granted an entry to take their place on the grid in 2015 or 2016.
Former Dutch F1 driver Christijan Albers, assisted by a colleague of Kolles from their time together at HRT in Manfredi Ravetto, are to take over the day-to-day running of the team.
Albers drove for Minardi, Midland and Spyker over three seasons from 2005-07, the latter two working with Kolles, before switching to sportscar racing.
Cyril Abiteboul, who had been working as team principal, has left the team to "pursue new challenges", according to a Caterham statement.
The new management face an uphill struggle given Caterham are rooted to the foot of the constructors' championship and far off the pace of even their closest rivals Marussia.
Speaking about the takeover, Albers said: "We are aware of the huge challenge ahead of us given the fight at the bottom end of the championship.
"Our target now is to aim for 10th place in the 2014 championship.
"We are very committed to the future of the team and we will ensure it has the necessary resources to develop, grow and achieve everything it is capable of."
Fernandes arrived in F1 five years ago with the best of intentions, especially as he believed a £40million budget cap was to be imposed on teams by then president Max Mosley for the 2010 campaign onwards.
But as that fell by the wayside, so did the hoped-for level playing field Fernandes had been assured would be in place for the new teams, not just his own, but also Virgin Racing and Hispania Racing who also entered in 2010.
To further blight his foray into the sport, Malaysian entrepreneur Fernandes was soon involved in a naming-rights row for the team.
Initially starting out as Lotus Racing, Fernandes was forced to alter the moniker to Team Lotus in 2011, before finally switching to Caterham F1 Team from 2012.
Despite investing huge sums of money, and even moving the team from Norfolk to the Leafield Technical Centre in Oxfordshire, previously home of Arrows and Super Aguri, Fernandes found he could not compete with the major marques and their vast annual spend.
In falling out of love with F1, Fernandes ultimately stepped down as team principal at the end of 2012, albeit retaining ownership at that time.
With his passion for football and his ownership of QPR taking hold, the F1 arm of Caterham Group - as he acquired the car company and set up a GP2 team - continued to garner less of his attention.
At the start of this season, upon the announcement of his driver line-up at the end of January, Fernandes made clear that unless results changed then he would be forced to sell up.
With Caterham consistently at the back of the grid the AirAsia owner has been as good as his word and is now out of F1.
Fernandes, however, has retained ownership of both Caterham cars and the GP2 marque.