Caterham F1 Team have pulled off an unlikely turnaround to race in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi GP. The struggling outfit have been in administration since October, but earlier this month started a crowd-funding project to try and raise money for the team in order for them to compete.
Their target was £2.35 Million, mainly to cover logistics, but the team actually fell short of this, finishing up with around £1.9 Million. A nudge from Bernie Ecclestone and some sponsor power from their new driver (More on that in a moment) pushed them the rest of the way.
The fund-raising scheme requested donations from fans around the world in exchange for exclusive pieces of merchandise and even bits of race-used equipments. Front wings, sidepods, drivers’ gloves and boots, HANS devices – you name it! They were all up for grabs. There were even sponsor opportunities for a larger amount of money, and those who forked out 1, 2, 5 or 10 thousand pounds will feature on the car with their name, logo, or both.
Personally, I loved the idea of helping get the team back on its wheels(?) and so chipped in £40 to get a limited edition hat.
2014 driver Marcus Ericsson announced a move to Sauber for 2015 and has since severed all ties with the team, leaving just Kamui Kobayashi as the team’s driver. Much speculation discussed many drivers as his colleague for Abu Dhabi. Max Chilton’s name was thrown around, as was Andre Lotterer, their driver for the Belgian Grand Prix. Charles Pic’s name also surfaced after he was dropped from Andretti Autosport’s Fomula E team.
However, it was World Series by Renault driver Will Stevens who was given the spot.
The young Brit tested for Caterham last season in the young driver test at Silverstone, and it looks like his performance, as well as a financial leg-up from his sponsors, have landed him the role. It will return the grid to its state of three British drivers after Max Chilton was lost from it along with Marussia.
They were not as fortunate as their green young team counterparts. There were rumours that they could get a hurried freight shipment over to Yas Marina Circuit to make the race, and they are currently in talks with a new buyer which could see them return next year, but ultimately, missing the Wednesday 4pm scrutineering checks dashed all hopes of racing in the season finale.
Caterham are currently joint-tenth with Sauber on zero points in the championship, and must pull of a spectacular weekend if they are to change that.