Tony Fernandes confirms Caterham Formula One team’s Norfolk move from Hingham to Oxfordshire
Tony Fernandes has confirmed Caterham's Formula One team will leave Norfolk in August – but his company will be doing anything but saying goodbye to its Hingham home.
As expected, the only Norfolk-based F1 team will relocate to Leafield – the former Oxfordshire home to the Arrows and Super Aguri outfits – during the 2012 season's summer break.
As well as the former Team Lotus constructor, Fernandes' GP2 team Caterham Racing – which competed in the 2011 Formula One feeder series as Team Air Asia – will also make the move.
'The factory in Hingham has been our home since we were first granted our entry into the F1 World Championship in September 2009 and it has served us extremely well, giving us the perfect platform to establish both the F1 team and our GP2 team in the first stages of our development,' said Fernandes.
However, in the end the Malaysian businessman's public fallout with Group Lotus left his plans to resurrect Norfolk's iconic marque in tatters – instead turning his attention to Dartford's Caterham Cars.
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His new plans include making Caterham a big player in the small sports car market – and that means a bigger site for production – while a budding composite and engineering business to make Formula One technology available in other industries is set to be housed at Hingham.
'As both racing teams grew, and in the planning process we went through when acquiring Caterham, it became clear we needed to house the car company in the same facility as our racing operations.
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'We propose moving the F1 and GP2 teams to the new site in or around August 2012, and moving Caterham Cars into a new, bespoke development and production facility on the same site in due course. We will be consulting with all our team about the proposed move before we make any decisions about exactly which functions will be relocated.
'The factory in Hingham is where the dream began and we will continue to develop that site into the new permanent home for Caterham Composites.
'We have cutting edge technical and production facilities already in operation in the factory, now focused on the F1 and GP2 teams, and we will be expanding those to help meet the future demands of Caterham Composites' clients…continuing to provide jobs and investment in Norfolk in world class, cutting edge technology.
'Caterham Technology and Innovation will also remain in Norfolk, demonstrating our long-term commitment to our first home.
'While it will obviously be sad if the F1 and GP2 teams move on from Hingham we are not saying goodbye to Norfolk. This will be the next chapter in the development of both our racing teams and road car company, and gives us the best chance to keep progressing on track and, in future, on the road with Caterham Cars.'
Caterham's August move is expected to leave Norfolk without a Formula One team, as was the case before 2009, with Norwich-born chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne and his F1 outfit moving to within a few miles of Silverstone and the likes of Red Bull, Force India and Williams.
However, both Caterham and Lotus – who previously raced as Renault but are now fully backed by Hethel's Group Lotus – will be able to claim genuine links to operations in the county, and hoping to keep the region's racing fans on board this season and beyond.