The future of ailing F1 team Caterham will be decided on Monday.
The backmarker team as well as Marussia sat out the US-Brazil double header in November amid financial troubles, but Caterham returned for the Abu Dhabi finale thanks to a desperate round of controversial online crowdfunding.
Marussia, however, looks to be almost certainly in the final throes of collapse, with F1 business journalist Christian Sylt saying administrators sold nearly 1000 items in an auction last week to pay creditors.
But Bernie Ecclestone says that if the team can sort out its problems, he will release to it the prize money for finishing the 2014 season in ninth place, said to be more than $50 million.
“If Marussia can find somebody who can prove they have enough money to run for the whole year, and we agree they are right, we would leave things as they are,” the F1 supremo told The Independent.
Marussia is collapsing under the ownership of Andrey Cheglakov, who Ecclestone said is a “nice guy”.
Rather, the 84-year-old blames the team’s management.
“He was badly advised and got into the team without really knowing too much about it,” he said.
“I think if he had had somebody with him that could do a little bit more, he would still be in formula one today,” Ecclestone told Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency.
Caterham, on the other hand – despite finishing behind not only Marussia this year but also Sauber – is a different story entirely.
Sylt revealed in the Sunday Express newspaper that a crunch meeting is taking place on Monday, in which unpaid creditors will be asked to approve a potential sale of the team.
Caterham’s chances of surviving may be better than Marussia’s because it managed to make it to Abu Dhabi for the 2014 finale, even though the crowdfunding scheme was controversial and blue-chip sponsors were replaced by tiny backers like a local pub paying less than $8000 for its logo.
“It laid bare the margins made on F1 sponsorship,” Sylt wrote in the Telegraph, “but it kept the team’s wheels turning.”
Caterham’s administrator, Finbarr O’Connell, said the fact Caterham raced in Abu Dhabi justified the way the money was raised.
“Having concluded a successful race event,” he told the Sunday Express, “the administrators have continued to have encouraging discussions with several potential buyers, a process that is still ongoing.”
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