The Caterham takeover is shrouded in mystery, sending the rumour mill into overdrive. So, what is going on at Leafield?
The paddock is swirling with rumours about the mysterious “consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern” investors who have taken over the Caterham team. Former boss Tony Fernandes was a visible and popular figure in the paddock when he founded the team, but the new owners have been much more secretive.
It was initially thought that ex-HRT, Jordan, Spyker, and Midland F1 boss Colin Kolles would be running the team, but instead one of his former drivers, Christijan Albers, will act as team boss. Although he may not be the official team principal, he was running things from the pit wall at Silverstone.
Kolles involvement, it seems, was in brokering the deal. Now, here's where it gets interesting. Kolles is good friends with Bernie Ecclestone, who recently went on record saying F1 could do without Caterham. There are rumours that Bernie got involved in the deal as well, helping Kolles negotiate with the new owners. If someone as powerful as Bernie was aiding the sale, then it raises big question marks about who the new owners are.
Caterham are losing money as a result of the sale. Most of their sponsorship came from Fernandes' aerospace connections, and with him gone they are too. Airbus logos are still on the rear-wing for now, but General Electric (who build engines for Fernandes' airline) are gone from the sidepod. Kolles' old mate from the Jordan days Ian Phillips, who was the team's Commercial Director, has been seen in the garage, presumably getting a feel for the team before hunting new backing.
The team is no longer registered as Malaysian, but nobody knows what flag they now race under. That info is being kept secret, along with the rest of the sale details, presumably in order to protect the identity of the new owners a little longer. The only way we'd find out is if they won and heard an anthem, but that would require an epic calamity for the rest of the field.
The team will still be based out of Leafield, Oxfordshire, but the new owners haven't bought the building. It's thought that they're leasing the facility.
The new owners also haven't bought the GP2 team, which will leave the futures of Rio Haryanto and Alexander Rossi up in the air. For the time being, however, the team looks like they'll keep racing in Caterham colours. No word on what this means for the Caterham-backed LMP2 programme as yet, but after withdrawing from the European Le Mans Series one has to assume it's dead in the water.
So far, that's all we know. Even in the super-secret world of F1, there'll be some information leaking out sooner rather than later. Still, in the meantime, the rumour mill over the future of Caterham F1 is going into overdrive.