Tony Fernandes to step down as Caterham team principal

Tony Fernandes, in what will prove to be one of his final interviews as Caterham team principal. Photograph: Charles Coates Tony Fernandes, in what will prove to be one of his final interviews as Caterham team principal. Photograph: Charles Coates

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
1:54 AM

Tony Fernandes is to step down as team principal at Hingham-backed Formula One outfit Caterham at the end of the season.

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EDP F1 correspondent Michael Bailey says…

Tony Fernandes said many times his Caterham team should be judged after its first three years – that time is almost up, as is his.

The outfit, now housed at the former home of the Arrows team in Leafield near Silverstone, still has some people working out its Hingham base. And there can be no doubt the team is bigger and better organised than ever.

The quality of those working for the team, as well as the infrastructure now in place, shows just how far they have come in relatively short time.

However, on the track the journey has been harder to complete and with so many other projects on his growing to-do list, it’s understandable and sensible for Fernandes to delegate his F1 responsibility to a more experienced hand.

The question now is who will fill that role? Whoever it is, they will have plenty of work to do to get the Hingham marque where Fernandes wants.

The Malaysian entrepreneur and team founder – along with deputy Kamarudin Meranun – plans to hand over the constructor’s reins to more experienced hands after what has proved a tricky 2012 campaign

Caterham remain without a championship point since arriving on the grid in 2010 and are still to catch up with the midfield teams like Toro Rosso and Force India. They even face losing their prized 10th place to Marussia, unless things change in the final two races of 2012.

Fernandes has plenty of other projects to keep himself busy, including his role as chairman of Premier League strugglers Queens Park Rangers and owner of successful airline Air Asia and car manufacturer Caterham Cars – who announced plans for a new line of sports cars earlier in the week.

Now Fernandes has admitted it is time for someone else to take on his Formula One outfit.

“On the racing side we have come to the conclusion that it is better if someone else takes over the team principal role to move forward,” said Fernandes.

“We are definitely better at business than finding tenths of seconds around a lap. It was right for us to lead the team initially and set a template of how it should be. That vision is now set and the team is ready to move forward to the midfield.

“I know who it will be (his successor) and can tell you that as I had confirmation earlier, but I cannot tell you their name yet. All I can say is they are from within F1.”

A 12th place finish or better ahead of Marussia in Austin or Sao Paulo would be enough for Caterham to retake 10th place – a constructors’ championship position they occupied in their first two seasons as best of F1’s three newest teams.

And they came close to doing just that in Abui Dhabi at the weekend, with Heikki Kovalainen having to settle for 13th around Yas Marina.

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