The Caterham Formula 1 Team were among one of three teams to enter the sport back in 2010, named as Lotus Racing originally. Malaysian millionaire Tony Fernandes founded and funded the team in an aim to be competing with the midfield teams in their first few years of their existence. However, Fernandes would later leave midway through the 2014 season after selling the team to Swizz-Middle Eastern buyers. Caterham managed just 5 seasons in F1 and scored 0 points, the worst race to points record by a Formula 1 team ever. The team folded after the 2014 season after the team entered into administration and failed to find a buyer before the start of the 2015 season.
The team was the 2nd team of the three new teams to depart from the sport with HRT leaving in 2012 and Marussia form into Manor for 2015 and 2016 before folding before 2017. But where are the key people from that 2014 Caterham F1 Team are at now?
Tony Fernandes: Former Team Principle and Owner
Tony Fernandes was the mastermind behind the Caterham F1 Team project which originated as Lotus Racing in 2010. Fernandes was serious about his ambitions in F1 with hiring big signings such as Mclaren’s Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli and engineer Mike Gascoyne. The AirAsia owner invested a lot of money to the team with a hope of potential midfield candidates within a few years of their entry into F1 but that wasn’t the case. The team soon changed its name to Caterham after Fernandes brought the Caterham Cars group in 2011. Fernandes stepped down as team principle in 2012 and handed the role over to Cyril Abiteboul. After being beaten by Marussia in 2013, Fernandes said in the 2014 Season launch that this year was the last straw for the team. 5 Season’s past with 10 drivers hired and Caterham failed to score a point, with their rivals Marussia scoring a two points at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, thanks to Jules Bianchi. Fernandes had enough and sold the team on 2nd July 2014 to Swizz-Middle Eastern Owners, ending his interest in F1 and signalling the end of the team with over 230 staff made redundant towards the end of the season.
Fernandes since then is the chairman of Championship side Queen’s Park Rangers who again heavily invested into putting the club in the Premier League for 3 seasons before getting relegated down to the Championship again. Fernandes still owns AirAsia and has a current net worth of $345 Million according Forbes.
Cyril Abiteboul: Former Caterham Team Principle
Cyril Abiteboul was once working his way up the ranks with Renault having been assigned as Executive Director of Renault Sport in 2010, before he joined Caterham in September 2012 before being appointed as Team Principle at the end of the season, taking over from the ranks of Tony Fernandes. Cyril would later leave the team in July 2014, returning to Renault Sport following the appointment of new owners and arrival of Christijan Albers as new Team Principle. Cyril now runs the day-to-day job as Managing Director of the Renault Sport F1 Team and often representing the team in the FIA Press Conference.
Finbarr O’Connell: Main Administrator for Caterham F1 Team
Finbarr O’Connell is a specialist in “Restructuring and Recover” with Smith & Williamson. When the organisation was brought in for Caterham, O’Connell acted as the main administrator for the team. With lack of funds to save the team’s future, O’Connell proposed the idea of crowdfunding for the team to compete at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The goal was to reach £2.5 Million before the 20th November and there were rewards for those who donated e.g. dinner with the drivers, a hat and more. O’Connell’s idea allowed for global businesses to promote their companies with a certain amount of funds, more notably a small pub in the UK, The Windmill Inn in West Sussex.
The goal was reached and Caterham managed to race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Kamui Kobayashi and Will Stevens, who was making his debut that weekend. The team after the Grand Prix failed to find a buyer before the deadline which saw the team folded. O’Connell still works with Smith & Williamson today.
Kamui Kobayashi: #10 Caterham Driver
Everyone’s favourite Japanese driver was shocked and upset when he left Sauber F1 Team back in 2012 and couldn’t find a seat meaning he would be missed for the following season. However, there was some sort of silverlighting when Kobayashi’s fans raised money for the Japanese driver to bag a seat in 2014 with Caterham. Whilst a return with Caterham wasn’t exactly a dream welcome back into the sport, Kobayashi showed he still had the skills when he qualified 15th place, only for his race to end before turn 1 when a brake failure caused a crash with Felipe Massa, ending the pairs races.
Midway through the season, Kobayashi was unhappy at Caterham after the change of drivers at the Belgium Grand Prix with Andre Lotterer stepping in for the Japanese driver. He returned at the next race in Italy. Despite his unhappiness with the team, Kobayashi did stay on to race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, only to retire from the race. Kobayashi finished that year with 0 points and didn’t return to F1 the year after. Instead, Kobayashi races with Toyota in the World Endurance Championship as well as racing in the Japanese Super Formula Series.
Marcus Ericsson: #9 Caterham Driver
Marcus Ericsson was entering his first ever F1 season with Caterham after a decent season in GP2. Ericsson wasn’t the most impressive rookie on the grid but showed some decent performances like his 11th place finish at Monaco, only for that result to be overshadowed by rival Marussia’s 9th place finish. Ericsson had no joy of points and when Caterham entered administration, he terminated his contract with the team and announced that he would be joining Sauber for 2015.
His 2nd year in F1 was better with points scored on his debut start with the Swizz team finishing 8th place. He would score 4 more times during the year to finish 18th in the standings overall with 9 points. The following year however was more difficult for Ericsson. A run of disappointing results followed seeing the Swede score no points but his future was secured when Longbow Finances, Ericsson’s sponsors brought Sauber F1 Team. Ericsson still races with Sauber in the 2017 Formula 1 Season
Will Stevens: #46 Caterham Driver
Not many people heard of Will Stevens before he surprisingly stepped into a F1 car at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He paid Caterham £500,000 to race for them for that weekend and he already made a name for himself when battling with Scuderia Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. This was only for 16th position of course with Alonso only just pitted but Stevens wasn’t letting the big names through easy.
Stevens returned to F1 the following season with the revived Manor team thanks to his funds earning him a seat. With a year old car and lack of pace, Stevens didn’t produce many stand out performances but regularly beat his team-mates of Roberto Merhi and Alexander Rossi. Stevens didn’t return to F1 and since raced in WEC and Blancpain championship but this year, Will Stevens won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE am category in a Ferrari 488 GTE.
Andre Lotterer: #45 Caterham Driver
Not many people saw this news come in when Andre Lotterer would be racing in an actual F1 event. Lotterer hadn’t stepped in a F1 car since 2002 when he was the reserved Jaguar driver. Lotterer stepped in for Kamui Kobayashi who was dropped that race weekend by the team. The then Audi driver managed to qualify 21st ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson but his race ended only after 1 lap when a technical failure ended his race.
That was the last time we would see Lotterer in F1. Lotterer continued his duties racing in the Japanese Super Formula and his duties with Audi. He currently races with Porsche in WEC after Audi decided to pull out of WEC.