Formula 1

Caterham's Abu Dhabi revival is another Formula 1 farce

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Following two races on the sidelines and entering administration, Caterham are set to return to the Formula 1 grid for the final race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

As the search continues to find a new buyer for the Leafield-based team, administrators launched a crowdfunding initiative looking to raise nearly two million pounds in just over a week.

Then on Friday, the deadline for the target to be met, those currently in charge announced that while the crowdfunding hadn't reached the amount required, they were confident that in the remaining days the total would be reached thanks to deals with drivers and other sources and that the team would be on the grid for the season finale.

Another farce in the making

In my opinion, however, the way the team has raised the funds to race in Abu Dhabi is just another farce to add to all the other current damaging stories coming out of the sport at the moment.

While it is sad to lose a team from the F1 grid, the simple crux of the matter is Caterham are in a state where it would need large scale investment just to make the team viable again, that is before how any potential owner would look at how to make the cars more competitive.

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The aim of racing in Abu Dhabi is to try and showcase the team as one that is still operating and potentially make it seem more lucrative to anyone considering buying the outfit.

Caterham set for controversial payout

But also by participating it means Caterham will receive a payout from Bernie Ecclestone's FOM for finishing tenth in the Constructors' championship.

That's where my biggest issue with the team currently lies. While its true Marussia will have broken their terms in the Concorde Agreement by missing three races in the season, is it really fair that a team who were set for ninth in the Constructors' standings, after Jules Bianchi scored their first and only F1 points in Monaco back in May, will lose out to a team who have literally begged their way to the final race of the year?

Of course there is a greater emotional aspect to that fact given the ongoing situation with Bianchi who, six weeks on, is still in a critical but stable condition after his horror crash at the Japanese Grand Prix, but regardless of that fact, if Caterham turn up complete a few laps and are seven, eight seconds off the pace does that justify their position to gain from Marussia's downfall?

What is the point?

Then I come back to this crowdfunding initiative, while there has been a lot of talk and opposition to the supposed attempts to drive three-car teams and possibly customer cars into F1 at the expense of smaller teams, I do believe Caterham have played on those feelings among fans and used this crowdfunding project to try and further their cause.

I understand that obviously no-one was forced to making a donation or buying one of the array of items on offer as part of the crowdfunding scheme but what are people really spending their hard earned cash on?

If racing at Abu Dhabi brings no long-term benefit then I'm sorry but trundling around at the back of the field in cars that are basically on their last legs seems more dangerous not just to those on the track potentially, but to the sport's reputation.

A sorry state of affairs

Then this brings me onto my final point, when Caterham entered F1 with two other teams in 2010 they were the one with the big name drivers and engineers with big aspirations for the future. This year, however, they have been the worse team all season and when founder Tony Fernandes decided to sell back in June, embarked on a deal that seems to have been far from ideal to say the least.

The group who took over remained anonymous and then quite soon it seemed anyone with a chequebook and was willing to pay could have a seat for a one-off thrill ride.

After Andre Lotterer drove in Spa, the question heading to every race was whether Kamui Kobayashi would drive and now, heading to Abu Dhabi, no-one knows who'll be behind the wheel.

Marcus Ericsson, the man who brought a lot of backing to get his chance in F1, has cut all ties with the team and because of limits as to how many drivers can race at one team over a season, most expect either GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer or even Marussia's Max Chilton to be drafted in alongside Kobayashi.

For me, the whole thing is a shambles and its sad that this is what an F1 team feels it has to do in order to survive, but for Caterham I think it should have been to realise their time was up and let the sport move on without them.

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