Tony Fernandes, Caterham, 2014

Fernandes ‘will quit if Caterham don’t improve’

F1 Fanatic Round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Tony Fernandes, Caterham, 2014In the round-up: Caterham owner Tony Fernandes warns he will leave the sport if his team don’t improve on last year’s performance when they finished 11th in the constructors’ championship.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Tony Fernandes stuns Caterham F1 backmarkers by threatening to quit (The Guardian)

“My message to the 250 people here [at the factory] is we have to go for it this year. This is it ?ǣ the final chance. We’ve given you the best infrastructure, the best potential drivers but it is now down to all of you to go and do it. If we’re at the back I don’t think I’m going to carry on.”

Kobayashi happy to race for free (Reuters)

“We paid with my fans’ donations and I have to really thank my Japanese fans. I think I could not get this seat without my fans.”

Kobayashi spurned Ferrari for Caterham (Autosport)

“Ferrari offered me another contract, and Stefano [Domenicali] is not happy I didn’t take it. But it is only my decision to be here.”

Kovalainen without a drive as Caterham follows the money (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“I got a text message from Tony [Fernandes] saying they need two pay drivers.”

Caterham updates for 2014 season (Caterham)

“The TMG facility allows us to run at 60% scale, more than the 50% scale we have been using to date, and that has obvious benefits in increasing the accuracy of the data generated in the tunnel.”

McLaren: No title sponsor? (Sky)

“Speaking in an interview, McLaren Managing Director Jonathan Neale said that the unveiling of the MP4-29 chassis will not be accompanied by any new major backing as had been expected.”

Lotus wants Project Pastor to follow a previous path (The National)

“We know Pastor [Maldonado] is fast, but what I suspect is, we will be handling the same situation we had with Romain, which is trying to control that speed more and make it come out when it is really required.”

Michael Schumacher: Family ‘deeply touched’ after FC Koln and Schalke unveil banner in support of the seven-time F1 world champion (The Independent)

“Players from both clubs displayed a banner before kick-off, which read: ‘Get well soon! You can do it, Michael!'”

Exploring Robert Clarke’s EarthPrix concept (The Way It Is)

“Unfortunately, racing has gone down a road where it’s only about the people who are competing in it. It’s a bunch of self-serving people participating in a club activity that they enjoy.”


Comment of the day

Lots of readers are very pleased to see Kobayashi return to F1:

Very welcome to see Kobayashi back. That should guarantee an extra level of madness at Suzuka. And good to see the team going back to a policy of at least one decent experienced driver again. Before 2013, they always had either Trulli, or Kovalainen, or both. (What?s Kovalainen doing now, by the way? More golf?)

Ericsson?s an underwhelming choice, like Chilton last year. I?d have preferred to see Rossi get the drive, he looked ready for it in his practice runs. Maybe he?ll take to F1 better than GP2 ?ǣ like Kobayashi did.

From the forum

Site updates

With the 2014 F1 driver line-up complete the lists of drivers who have appeared for each team have been updated:

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Nathan and Salut Gilles!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Mike Hawthorn was killed 55 years ago today in a road accident. He was the reigning world champion at the time but had left the sport a few weeks earlier after taking the title in a year which saw the deaths of Stuart Lewis-Evans, Luigi Musso, and Hawthorn’s close friend Peter Collins.

Image ?? Caterham/LAT

55 comments on “Fernandes ‘will quit if Caterham don’t improve’”

  1. RaceProUK (@)
    22nd January 2014, 0:12

    Seems there’ll be no Massa-Smedley bromance this year :'(

    1. AMR (@aiera-music)
      22nd January 2014, 0:37

      It’s okay baby, stay cool! :D

    2. For Massa sake, finally. Now he can get on with the job, instead of being petted around and being told how to drive.

      1. I highly doubt Smedley would do that if Massa didn’t want it.

    3. A change is good for everyone.

      Is Smedley staying for Rakkonnen? Could be an interesting combo. A lot of personality learning to be done on both sides!

      1. @georgetuk No, Raikkonen’s race engineer will be Antonio Spagnolo. I have no idea which role will Smedley have at Ferrari, if he remains there…

  2. Fernandez actually said on ted’s notebook on sky f1 that if they didnt score a point you would “find me hanging around those trees over there” which I thought was a bit morbid. Also erricson said he picked no. 9 and kobayashi said he picked no. 10

    Also the log in button seems to have dissappeared on android, using chrome.

    1. Got the same problem.

  3. Seriously, you can increase your brand exposure by several magnitude in EPL than F1 with significant less money.

  4. It’s nice to see that Kobayashi is prepared to race for free – respect to him. It’s also cool of Perez to congratulate him, I remember him saying last year that he believed Kobayashi could get a seat in the future and thankfully he was right.

    I’m also glad to see Koln and Schalke 04 showing their support to Schumacher.

  5. 2nd December: No title sponsor announcement. 24th January: Likewise. Although there could still be one before Melbourne, I’m not holding out much hope. Maybe they are delaying a sponsor until 2015 for the Honda tie-up. Not that I’m against them not having one for a year as they seem financially sound going on Neale’s comments, it’s just I like to see a lot of sponsors on the cars because it suggests F1 is in a healthy state financially (pay driver sponsors raise that debate I suppose).

    Chrome and black with prominent McLaren logos for 2014 then? It’s going to be a nightmare with Mercedes!

    1. @deej92

      Chrome and black with prominent McLaren logos for 2014 then? It’s going to be a nightmare with Mercedes

      Maybe if you’re colour-blind.

      Speaking of which, I am colour-blind, but I don’t anticipate it to be a problem. I can tell the difference between McLaren’s chrome and Mercedes’ brushed silver, and between black and turquoise.

      1. Well the rocket red and turquoise were easily distinguishable, but at a glance a less dominant black could make it more difficult.

    2. Maybe they’ll realise how ridiculous they sounded with a title sponsor – “What went wrong in qualifying, Martin?” “Vodafone this, Vodafone that” – and go without. Other proper racing teams like Williams, Sauber and Ferrari don’t need one…

      1. RaceProUK (@)
        22nd January 2014, 9:45

        This would be the same Ferrari that was called ‘Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro’ in the days of tobacco sponsorship :P

      2. Well, Sauber and Williams don’t have any at the moment. And it’s only recently that Ferrari dropped Marlboro from the name.

        But I agree. Nobody mentions their title sponsor as often as McLaren mentioned Vodafone. SniffPetrol even listed them as “Vodafone McLaren Vodafone Mercedes Vodafone” in their preview of 2013.

  6. Only good thing that might come out of Ron’s reappointment is the cancellation of “Tooned”. It just doesn’t go with Ron.

    1. I must admit, I’m kinda glad to see the back of it

  7. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    22nd January 2014, 0:50

    Should the fans who donated to Kobayashi’s seat, get a small percentage of his pay check in return, since they essentially invested in him?

    1. He’s racing for free so, no check for anyone!

      1. He’s doing what Raikonnen did, except for the rejected contract with Ferrari. Well, it looks like he prefers racing over money (I would do the same, I would pay to have the chance to run one lap in a F1… I would drink a sip of fuel if they requested it as a condition to drive!!!).
        What is what he leaves in Ferrari anyway? Of course the money and the marketing, but I don’t see him going to replace Kimi or Alonso (except a strange situation) and remember last time Ferrari used their 3rd driver (Badoer) they went on for Fisichella (who was already 2nd in Belgium in Force India) and things went wrong for the Italian. guy. I guess he prefers driving the rolling roadblock than being just a ghost driver.

      2. He’s doing what Raikonnen did, except for the contract he (KK) didn’t take with Ferrari. Well, it looks like he prefers racing over cash (I would do the same, I would pay to have the chance to run once in a F1… I would drink a sip of fuel if they asked me to do it!!!).
        What is exactly what he leaves in Ferrari anyway? Of course the salary and the marketing, but I don’t see him going to replace Kimi or Alonso (except an odd situation) and, I remember last time Ferrari used their 3rd driver (Badoer), they looked “outside” and then they went on for Fisichella (linked with Ferrari yes, but who was already 2nd in Belgium in Force India) and things went wrong for the Fisi. I guess Kamui prefers driving a Catherham than being just a PR driver.

      3. Should he apply for crowdfunding website for his monthly pay? I’d give 10 Euros every month without a blink :)

    2. @tophercheese21
      Not really.
      The fans who donated, donated the money to see Kamui race in F1. Getting to see Kamui racing in F1 is their return.

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        22nd January 2014, 3:39

        Fair enough :)

        1. @tophercheese21

          Also it’s a ‘donation’ which is different from ‘investment’ so no returns even if he got paid.

  8. I said months ago nothing was lined up for McLaren. Hopefully the team will prove me wrong but I doubt it.

    1. I don’t know if this was the plan all along, but this Is what they say about the money.
      And maybe Honda wants the team to be called Honda McLaren?

  9. McLaren’s situation is curious… can only imagine it’s because they want to do a one-year deal, but any sponsors with enough cash know it takes more time than that to utilise the link up properly through advertising, etc.

    I’d have thought them above this, but… what if they’ve decided to flog the space on the car race-by-race? Might be able to get a decent amount by selling to (examples) Gazprom for Russia, Etihad for UAE, o2 for Britain, Westpac in Australia… bump Mobil 1 to main sponsors for USA…

    Add in a touch of sponsor work for the drivers at each race that they’d have otherwise been doing for Vodafone, and it would bring in a few pennies.

    The regulations say no substantial changes though, so whether or not that would count…?

  10. That’s what you want to do to promote a stable, motivated and happy workforce. Threaten everybody’s jobs and put a metaphorical gun to everybody’s heads.

    Can’t say I blame Fernandes even though there have to be better ways of saying what he did. And fair play to him for speaking out against the double points farce. However he’s had to endure the ignominy of failing to score a point in four seasons, as well as being beaten by a fellow backmarker with a far smaller budget and less resources, although to be fair in 2013 Marussia had the Senna-esque Max Chilton. I’m rooting for both Marussia and Caterham to start truly fighting the midfield. We’re overdue a pleasant surprise from them!

    1. @colossal-squid I’m sure HRT workers would have loved to know before hand that they wouldn’t be taking part in 2013 even if the writing was on the walls (metaphorically of course). Now you have Caterham going into it’s fifth season and not looking any closer to the mid tier groups, at least Jordan and somewhat but very little Minardi had success up front or in the middle before residing at the back for several years, but not the new guys.

      If I was an engineer working at Caterham I’d be happy to know that I have nearly a year to find a new job before he closes the doors. You can’t keep hemorrhaging money and expect the mediocre results to suffice, there is no easy way to tell someone that their job is probably not going to exist soon.

      1. @magillagorilla I’m sure the HRT workers would indeed have loved to have known for sure if they were going to be racing or not. But to me here’s the vital distinction:

        Fernandes hasn’t given his employees notice of termination, he’s given them an ultimatum. That’s a big difference. How would you like being told that your hard work over the past four years hasn’t been good enough, and that you’re to show a big improvement or face being fired?

        I know that if that happened to many people the last thing it would lead to is a constructive working environment. Some pressure at work can be beneficial, too much and the atmosphere in the workplace along with the worker’s performance can nose-dive. Creating much more stress and uncertainty for your employees rarely has beneficial outcomes. Fernandes could have done this in a million different, better ways, least of all not do it in public.

    2. @colossal-squid – I concur. Not a big fan of the negative incentive style of management even if he is just being honest. In contrast look back to the celebration in the Marussia garage after the last race of 2013 when they took 10th place in the WCC. That was inspiring. My wish is to see both Marussia and Caterham do well and perform better than last season. I can understand his frustrations, but maybe Fernandes should look towards selling the team to someone more suited for the long term rigors of an F1 team.

  11. These Caterham colors look very cool. Their lineup is good. They seem to have made improvements on the technical side as well, so I really hope they perform better this year than before.

    Kamui’s announcement made me remember the time he got the podium on home soil, the crowd going wild and chanting his name, that was epic. I want to see him back at least that level once again.

  12. It’s wonderfully refreshing to see Kamui racing for free. It has always hacked me off that so many drivers put so much emphasis on their paychecks when it comes to contract negotiations. It’s a shame because money is never the reason that any drivers get involved in motorsport in the first place, and yet so many drivers seem to forget that. Good on you, Kamui.

    Perhaps it is a little bit of a shame that for all his money-raising efforts he will only get a single season with a backmarker team. That said, Kobayashi always seems to be at his best when drinking in the last chance saloon. Also, 2014 does represent the best chance yet for Caterham to score that elusive first point. If Australia is as chaotic as Horner predicted last week, Kobayashi could do it as soon as round 1.

    1. That’s not quite right, effectively, he is a pay driver. Pay drivers don’t get paychecks.

      1. Paid by fans, no?

        1. Better the fans than to take a handout from a company who wants you to backing a product you likely don’t care about…

    2. You’re right, I can’t imagine any of the current champions would drive for free, once they’ve won they have nothing to prove anymore, so some of that hunger they once had slowly disappears, and money helps them keep going, Kimi being the best example of course.

  13. And interesting article on why Rush wasn´t nominated from an Oscar.

    Why It Wasn’t Nominated: Formula What? The Academy doesn’t pay much attention to movies about sports that aren’t boxing, and Rush had a particularly difficult hill to climb, since the average voter probably doesn’t know about this very European story. Star Daniel Bruhl’s turn as the icy bucktoothed Lauda was a physical transformation comparable to past winners like Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln or Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Capote, but since Bruhl is a lesser-known actor playing a barely-known true-life person, he didn’t get the typical biopic bump.

    1. I knew Rush made quite a lot more than I was expecting at the box office (just south of $100m, iirc), but I was surprised after reading only $26m was domestic.

      I guess the mass of us americans would rather a football (not soccer) or basketball movie over anything, sadly.

    2. This is nothing new, the Academy has always been short sighted and sometimes very good movies get overlooked completely, having said that I agree Rush is not good enough to be nominated, however Daniel’s performance is very good indeed and is a shame he isn’t mentioned.

    3. It was never going to get nominated. Studios have to lobby really hard just to get a film considered as one of the candidates for an award – they need to secure new theatrical runs, promote the film all over again, and spend a small fortune all over again. If they make that short list, then the process starts all over again. And if a film doesn’t turn a profit domestically (read: the United States), it can pretty much forget about making the short list at all. That’s not a prerequisite, of course, but it is something of an unwritten rule. It is unlikely that anyone involved in the production of Rush even considered lobbying for an Oscar.

  14. On the one hand, I’m happy to see Kamui back. On the other hand… if I was in his position I think I’d have taken the Ferrari contract. Sports cars ain’t a bad gig and especially for a team like Ferrari. Plus, if they’re looking to have him help test the simulator, it means they at least acknowledge his expertise in F1 and might offer him a test seat down the line. And a test seat could turn into a race seat.

    I dunno. Caterham would have to really turn around with the new regs to make me feel like this was a good decisions for Koby.

    1. Sports cars option will always be there for Kamui. F1 not so, and it worth a gamble for him being Japanese. Imagine he does impress next season and some one at McLaren does not. I bet Honda will not think twice.

    2. @joey-poey: There may be some sense in what you write, but turning down a certain F1 drive for a background job at Ferrari which may lead to a test seat which may lead to a drive? There are so many things which could go wrong with that.

      I’m happy to see him back, and wish him all the best!

  15. Some remarks about EarthPrix: at the moment it sounds still a bit vague, even though 50% of the article is about Clarke meeting with various parties and them having interest. The challenges all sound a bit dull to be honest: 300 km long distance run? Slalom? Drag race? Urban environment? However I do like the freedom of having no restrictions for the power unit – I would love to see F1 having a clause in the regulations to allow electric engines, just like turbo engines in the late seventies. It reminds me a lot about Formula Student: I love the variety of the cars (I love reading about the technology they can come up with), but because there is no interaction between vehicles, it is very dull to watch.

    I guess most fanatics here have spent some time developing their own vision of motor racing in the future. In my opinion, F1 in particular has become too clean, too many people are working on one car. Imo, it would be much more fun to watch cars competing that are designed and operated by just a handful of people. On the other hand, F1 needs to become more open and it should allow more technological freedom. But anyway, those are just my thoughts.

    1. I think it would be great if they are able to do such an event @andae23, I agree that the Formula Student project (and solar races etc) should be ideally part in this too.
      And any racing series that manages to pull off working with them would get a boost to its interest and relevance. IMO it would be the ideal thing to pair with some of the formula E races, and with Dakar, maybe with LeMans or Daytona or the Indy 500 too. And I would love if they would stage it around an F1 race, although for that to happen there need to be someone else in charge first (although many people from F1 could be part of the event non the less).

      Its draw is more back to basics – the likes of the early car manufacturers/pioneers testing their gasoline, electrical, steam driven and whatever automobiles against each other in an endurance race on real roads – although a lack of safety sensibly moved it off open roads. I would really see it as complementary, and maybe a binding aspect, rather than replacing any one series because I do not think everyone would be interested in a dragrace or an endurance event or a funny cars show.

  16. Mclaren not having a sponsor is maybe due to Mclaren not having any presence on the podium for so long. Another reason for Ron’s return.

  17. Wow, big news round up today.

    I’ve not been happy with Fernandes ever since he gave up on the Lotus name after 1 (2?) years. If he leaves at the end of the year, then fine – I hope someone more dedicated to the sport comes along. I remember when he first started syaing that he was here for the long-term – yeah right.

    And I think it was probably a mistake by Kamui to hitch his wagon to their train. I know F1’s great but sportscar racing wouldn’t have been that bad surely…?

    Would love to get a proper look at that new Force India nose. Hohnny Noble is saying he thinks the perception is that it’ll be ugly but after the stepped noses how much worse could it get?

  18. Tony Fernandes: I’ll quit QPR if we’re off the pace again (Evening Substandard)

    Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

  19. THIS …this is what Formula1 is all about! Driver announcements, car presentations and the ongoing speculations during winter-testing – that’s pure excitement for real f1-fanatics! I always enjoy this part of the off-season period, because of all the uncertainty regarding the true strength of the cars/teams. Like an addict i’m searching for new information and photos about the new cars. …who set the fastest time on this day, who had best tyre degradation, checking time-monitors on the smartphone …i love it!

    This time always reminds me of one thought: To me, the attraction of F1 is much more than just racing + overtaking. The technical side is even more interesting and an important part of this motorsport. If there wasn’t this kind of insight into the sophisticated and unique approaches of every engineering detail, i think i wouldn’t be interested in F1 anymore. Honestly I don’t know, wether there are other motorsport-series, that provide this much technical information – but i believe that it separates F1 from other motorsports. Without this aspect, F1 would become replaceable to me.

    Not to forget: Thanks to this website, i get a lot of information to maintain my f1-additiction =) Keep up the good work, Keith!

  20. I’m surprised that the Fernandez comments don’t seem to get more interest on here. As an American, I’ve come to expect to see our sports teams have a chance at coming from behind one year and have the chance to win many games or even a championship the next year. It makes it worth supporting teams even if they aren’t front markers every year. In our NFL (American football), they have a salary cap on players and they give the last place teams higher draft picks for talent. A way to balance things and hence our phrase: “On any given Sunday, any team could possibly beat any other team” It keeps fans involved.

    So why is it that Bernie and company just keeping giving more and more money to the top teams and starving the backmarkers…and then chastising them for being poor. Sounds like the sports world’s version of America’s “trickle down economics” which we’ve seen are an incredibly poor excuse for a real policy.

    And why does nobody on here seem to care? Am I just out there and it’s not an issue to anyone else that Carterham or Marussia have ZERO chance of even scoring a point???

    1. @daved, no you’re not alone.

  21. Mclaren: Worst season in 20 years, no title sponsor, a second-rate driver on one race seat, a rookie on the other, and missing the first test on a season with the biggest regulations change of the pas few years.
    Thank you Martin Whitmarsh you are doing an amazing job. I actually feel sorry for Ron, at 60 he should be thinking about enjoying his life a bit more… Instead he has to step in to stop gold old Martin running Mclaren into the ground.

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