As Marussia reaches the end of the line, fellow absent backmarker Caterham wants F1 fans to fund its Abu Dhabi comeback later this month.
Using the Twitter hashtag ‘RefuelCaterhamF1’, the team – under administration and reportedly in debt to the tune of $25 million – has launched a controversial crowd-funding appeal to raise the almost $4 million it says it needs to race at the 2014 finale.
Some immediately welcomed the innovative idea, with hundreds donating small amounts and others pledging between 40 British pounds to several thousand to receive memorabilia including gloves, overalls, and even wings and logos on the Abu Dhabi cars.
But Red Bull’s Christian Horner – having already slammed the threats of boycott from other struggling privateers Lotus, Force India and Sauber – was fiercely critical.
“The concept is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed,” he told Britain’s Sky.
“The fans pay to be entertained by the teams, they shouldn’t be having to pay for a team.”
A deeper look into the crowd-funding platform being used, meanwhile, reveals that the accountancy firm for crowdcube.com is actually a company called Smith and Williamson.
It is the very company for whom the chief Caterham administrator, newly self-appointed team boss Finbarr O’Connel, works.
He said: “We are working non-stop to get the Caterham F1 Team back racing, initially in Abu Dhabi, but hopefully that will be just a stepping stone to get it back racing on a permanent basis, under new ownership.”
If Caterham does not hit its $3.7 million target by next Friday, the pledged funds will be returned to fans. At time of writing, the scheme has raised more than $500,000. (GMM)