It has emerged that Caterham will be allowed to run their 2014 car for next season to help them stay afloat by reducing development costs, although it is still not confirmed that the team will actually be on the grid for the Australian GP, or even make the Jerez Testing.
According to Finbarr O’Connell the acting team principal and administrator of the team, they still haven’t found a buyer for the Leafield based outfit, and the assets could still be liquidated (as is happening to Marussia) if a buyer doesn’t come in before the end of the year.
Caterham didn’t run in either the US or Brazilian rounds of the championship after going into administration, and although they were present at Abu Dhabi, they were some way off the pace and didn’t have drivers confirmed until a couple of days before the race itself – eventually opting for rookie Will Stevens to partner Kamui Kobayashi.
Although regulations are not changing significantly for next season, there will be a number of small changes to the cars including a new nosecone requirement to get rid of the phallic front ends we saw in 2014. Given the importance of the front end on the aero balance of the rest of the car, running a cosmetic change on the Caterham is very unlikely to lead to any performance gains.
While the team have not yet confirmed a driver line up for next season, it is probably the one area that they won’t struggle with. The loss of Marussia, and a lack of any in season testing means that if they choose to do so, Caterham will find it relatively easy to find a pair of pay drivers for their cars, either through agreements with other teams to run development drivers in the cars, or alternatively through direct sponsorship arrangements.
A final unknown is the name of the team for next year. At present, the official entry list still names them as 1Malaysia Racing Team / CF1 Caterham Racing Team. It’s possible that any buyer of the team and entry will want to distance themselves from the failure of 2014. Note: Marussia’s parent Manor GP are still listed as an entrant, and Max Chilton suggested that the team are still hopeful of running in 2015 on Sky’s F1 Show on Saturday 29 November.
The usual opacity about prize money from the F1 Group means that it isn’t confirmed whether Caterham will receive the 10th place in the constructors championship left available by the collapse of Marussia, and the cash that goes with it.