Formula 1

Formula 1 future is in doubt after Caterham & Marussia demise

Published Add your comment

Football News

So it finally happened, after four years of making up the numbers Caterham and Marussia have joined fellow 2010 start-up HRT in leaving the F1 grid.

For Caterham, it wasn't a surprise as founder Tony Fernandes had lost interest in the sport and when the money finally ran out pulled the plug selling, or not if the comments in the ongoing spat between himself and the group on investors who took over are to be believed, the team he created earlier this year.

With the debts piling up the bailiffs moved in to reclaim their money and the factory in Leafield is now in the hands of administrators who are examining the company's viability while looking for potential buyers.

At the same time, Marussia, who have been sidetracked since the horrific crash of their lead driver Jules Bianchi in Suzuka just over three weeks ago, have also fallen into administration as their backer Andrei Cheglagov decided he too had had enough of splashing the cash.

Their demise means this weekend's race in Austin will see just 18 cars in the garages, the lowest since 2005, and most within the F1 world are describing it as the beginning of the end for Formula 1.

Related Articles

But is all this doom and gloom well founded?

Same old story

At the heart of the story lies an argument that the sport has debated for years and years, how to address the spending imbalance between those at the top compared to those fighting for the wooden spoon.

It has been one dictated by power and greed as those at the top, who have the ability to make Formula 1 sustainable and business friendly continue to push their own agendas and do little that would risk the large income they bring in.

Make the common sense proposal that those with hundreds of millions in the bank should try and limit their expenditure in a bid to give those without a bottomless pit of cash a chance and they will say 'yes, of course' before spending another $100m on a new front wing.

Doomed from the start?

Yet in the case of Marussia, Caterham and HRT this was more of a case of three teams doomed from the start.

Initially a fourth team, USF1, was also set to join back in 2010 but folded before even turning a wheel, however, when the three other outfits received their licence to race they did so under false pretences.

Then FIA President Max Mosley was trying to force through a budget cap of around $40-$60m and it was this that attracted the new small teams into the sport. However, as soon as those who can afford to spend nearly 10 times the lower of those two figures got word they flexed their muscles and the idea was soon dropped.

In the years since the two who survived, as HRT folded in 2012, were able to generate more funds than the original budget cap but at the same time generated debts that almost matched their yearly outlay, as they tried to succeed in a time when the imbalance between those at the top and those at the back had actually increased. 

It was like asking Accrington Stanley to compete with Real Madrid and ultimately their attempts ended in failure.

Impact on F1

With their demise the question becomes what is the impact of their departure on F1 as a whole?

After all these were teams who, for the most part, made up the numbers, the only time you saw a Caterham with a Red Bull is when the latter was coming up to lap the former for the fourth time in a single race.

For Marussia, their impact is a more emotional one given recent events. It is saddening to think that three weeks after one of the sport's undoubted future stars was involved in what remains a life threatening crash, Bianchi's team is no longer racing and his crowing achievement of finishing ninth scoring his and Marussia's first points in Monaco could all mean nothing by season's end.

While at Caterham, this was the team with the ambitions, the big names and it appeared the surest footing when they arrived on the grid four years ago. As recently as last year they were easily the quickest of the new teams and even came close to breaking into the midfield pack, yet in 2014 it has been, even for a small team, a large fall from grace.

So while the impact of their demise on the show and action on track is very small, symbolically it is very big indeed.

What next?

Something people are trying to work out is what comes next for F1 with just nine teams left and others still fighting for their survival?

Most believe this will spark the three-car teams that Bernie Ecclestone and some of the bigger teams have been driving for, for quite some time, while others look at the idea of customer cars as those big teams sell ready made cars and all the accompanying sides that allow an outfit who haven't got the resources to design and develop their own machines to continue to go racing.

And while the end of Marussia and Caterham is sad, I still believe the circumstances surrounding and since their arrival on the grid four years ago means any long-term ambitions they had were incredible difficult to achieve.

Instead I think it would take a developed midfield team like Sauber or Lotus, both of whom were works teams for big car makers, to fall off the grid before any thoughts of the end of F1 as we know it can be taken seriously.


There is some hope, however, in 2016 Haas F1 is set to join and the arrival of an American team should signify a key opportunity for the sport to learn and develop.

While the new Ferrari-backed team, led by NASCAR team owner Gene Haas, muddles the picture in relation to three-car teams, it gives Formula 1 a chance to show that yes new teams can come in and enjoy some success if they know what they are letting themselves in for.

F1 needs it small teams just as much as it needs Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, after all not every team in a major football league can be considered world class, they are the often the heart of all the action in a tight and compact midfield and remain something fans respect and follow rather than just punning for those who always fight for the podium.

The outpouring towards Marussia since Bianchi's crash at Suzuka proves they have just as bigger place in F1 as a McLaren or a Mercedes and while some have dreams of seeing three Red Bull's fight three Ferrari's, ensuring the sustainability of Formula 1 for years and decades to come should be a far more important goal.

Formula 1

Read more

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again