Caterham F1 update

Nicholas Hoult with the Caterham team at the Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore.

Nicholas Hoult with the Caterham team at the Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore.

 

I’ve just learned today that, since Friday, Caterham F1 has raised over £1 million of the £2.35 million it needs to race in Abu Dhabi.

Some result. More than I thought it would raise anyway. Still a long way to go with a deadline of 14 November but let’s be positive. Pop over to the Crowdcube website and pledge an amount, even if it’s just a fiver. Supporters may receive something novel from support badges and T-shirts to a one-off opportunity to get their name on the Caterham F1 car.

Finbarr O’Connell, Caterham Sports Limited’s administrator told me:

“I’m not packing my toothbrush as yet and there is still a lot of fundraising to be done. We’ve been approached by a number of people from Simon Ward, the artist, offering to produce an original artwork, and 500 prints of it, to trading partners who are offering their support. They want to see the Caterham F1 team back on the grid.

“Most importantly, a new financially sound interested party has entered the arena and is considering acquiring the team. This new interest is wholly due to this campaign.”

The latter sounds promising although it’s all too little, too late. After team meetings in Brazil today it sounds as though Bernie et al are washing their hands of it all. Some of the comments they’ve been making are quite outrageous.

I can’t see it but apparently there has also been a bit of confusion about the purpose of the #RefuelCaterhamF1 crowd funding project, claims O’Connell. The plan is not to run an F1 team by using crowdfunding but rather this funding is providing a supposed lifeline for the team. One would have thought this was obvious. I therefore don’t think the comment from Red Bull’s Christian Horner about the merits or otherwise of funding an F1 team via crowdfunding is either timely or relevant.

It’s a desperate move which has a very slim chance of succeeding. But if you were in Caterham’s position you’d try anything. Clearly the administrator has run out of options. If teams don’t race they won’t attract a purchaser. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

Don’t also forget the human element to all this. The 200 people in Leafield, in the Prime Minister’s constituency incidentally, have been working without pay for the last six weeks. Without them there would be no team and they deserve all our support. Chew on that Bernie.

F1 implodes, for some…

 

Sochi Autodrom, 10 October 2014: Marcus Ericsson in the garage.

Sochi Autodrom, 10 October 2014: Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson in the garage.

 

Following on from Bernie’s insanity over double points for the last GP of the season, I fear those who run F1 and clearly who are far cleverer than me are either losing the plot, or more likely acting like Dr Strangelove – only this time the right people are pushing the wrong button.

Marussia F1 has ceased trading and those super people at the Caterham F1 Team are launching the #RefuelCaterhamF1 project so the team can go racing in Abu Dhabi and hopefully beyond.

As they say: “The team will reward both fans and sponsors in this unique opportunity to be the driving force behind the team by crowdfunding its return to the grid.”

If I win the lottery tonight, I’ll be the first one in. I fear though all will be in vein.

But this doesn’t matter. What does is that those who keep the cogs of the sport turning are losing their jobs, and that I find unforgiveable.

I don’t like alter slaughters at the best of times but there is no reason why smaller teams should be sacrificed.  Clearly a plan operating at a high level is being played out. I hope the buggers have a conscience.

I know F1’s a business but we’ve crossed the line here people!

Caterham not for sale

Just in case you hadn’t heard, Caterham Group is not for sale.

The reports circulating last weekend were factually incorrect, says Caterham. However, the Group is actively searching for additional investment as it seeks to fulfil ambitious plans to develop.

“The shareholders of the Group, co-Chairmen Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, remain wholly committed to the Caterham brand.”

Adds Fernandes:

“We love what we build and we are always looking for further investment. This is no different to how we started AirAsia. Yes, we are constantly challenging ourselves and making decisions on everything from the structure to projects within the Group. That is normal business. That does not mean we are selling.”

Nosey Caterham stirs up debate

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CT05 – the Caterham F1 car that Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson will be competing with – has been unveiled in Jerez, Spain.

The first to be fully designed and built at Caterham’s Leafield Technical Centre, CT05 will race in the team’s new all-green 2014 livery and, for the fourth year in a row, will be powered by Renault Sport F1, using the new Renault Energy F1 engine mated to a Red Bull Technology gearbox.

Says Cyril Abiteboul, Caterham’s Team Principal and CEO:

“The 2014 car is now much closer to many of the teams ahead and, this year, there is no reason for this to not materialise directly to performance on track.

“We believe CT05 is a good starting point for us to deal with the new regulations and their associated challenges, in particular in terms of reliability. We obviously won’t know where we really are in relation to the other teams until the first race, but we believe we have answered the challenges presented by the new regulations as effectively as we can.

“We also have a very good reason to be positive about how this car will develop throughout the season ahead. Thanks to our relocation in 2012 to at the core of the ‘F1 valley’, and a highly selective recruitment plan, our staff are now a good mix of experience and young talent and we have moved our wind-tunnel programme to the Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) facility in Cologne, Germany.

“This means we are now working at 60% scale, a significant improvement over our previous facility and another sign of just how serious we are about making real progress this year.

“In addition to the TMG move is an improved partnership with Dell/Intel which gives us, among many other benefits, a major upgrade to our CFD capability, a critical part of our design toolbox that is even more important this year with the rule changes governing wind-tunnel use in 2014.

“In Renault Sport F1 and Red Bull Technology we have technical partners that have powered the World Championship winning team for the last four years, and, while we are realistic enough to know we are very unlikely to be competing right at the front of the grid, there is no reason why we should not be fighting higher than we have done since we came into the sport in 2010.

“We have extensive experience of working with both Renault and Red Bull and that is going to be crucial this year. Reliability and energy management will play a key role in 2014, especially early in the season, so our experience of working so closely with both organisations since 2011 will definitely help throughout the course of the season.”

Despite the major rule changes introduced this season, the team’s design philosophy was actually only slightly different to usual for a totally new car. Says Mark Smith, Technical Director:

“We have still sought to maximise aero and mechanical performance within the regulations but there has been more emphasis than usual placed upon weight reduction and, bearing in mind how critical reliability will be this year, we have been slightly more conservative in the areas around the new power unit – cooling systems, exhausts, heat management, and so on.

“At the front of the car, the area that will obviously inspire most debate, we have focused a lot of effort on optimising flow structures around the nose, the front of the chassis and the reduced width front wing area, all in response to the 2014 regulation changes.

“However, the package we start testing with is by no means our definitive answer and we fully expect to evaluate alternative solutions throughout the course of 2014, particularly now our 60% scale work has started in the TMG wind tunnel in Cologne and our improved Dell/Intel HPC (High Performance Cluster) is coming on stream, significantly stepping up our CFD resource.”

Overall there were a number of other major areas the design team focused on – the front chassis height led them to opt for pullrod suspension which, according to the team, provides the best solution from both a mechanical and aerodynamic perspective.

Another focus area was cooling – charge air cooler packaging has driven the cooling architecture and consequently the sidepod and rear-deck bodywork and, at the rear end of the car, development has been driven by the removal of the beam wing, again as per 2014 regulations, and the exhaust ‘blowing’ effect we’ve seen in recent years – this has created a challenge all teams will face, how to recover the rear load generated by those areas in previous seasons, and, again, something that will continue to develop throughout the season ahead.

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