Caterham boss Tony Fernandes has announced he is stepping down from his role in the F1 team. It is refreshing to hear a businessman accept that he is just that, and not the ideal man for running an F1 team. Fernandes is a successful man with many admirable business accolades, and the recent announcement that Caterham and Renault have formed a partnership to revive the Alpine sports car brand is a major coup. Remember, until very recently, Caterham was a kit car maker, forever teetering on the edge of financial disaster. The Alpine project promises something very exciting.
Back to F1, and Fernandes says he knows who is going to run the team, and that they are ‘from F1’, but that as of now he cannot name them. There are many viable candidates, so speculation is rife; I expect it to be someone with considerable experience, as Fernandes is not in the F1 game for a laugh.
Caterham has not made the great strides forward expected, so the new incumbent will need to hit the ground running. The team has struggled to match Marussia on some occasions this year, which is something of a surprise. It should also be remembered that neither Heikki Kovalainen nor Vitaly Petrov is confirmed for 2013, and that money may be a factor in securing a drive. Charles Pic is widely touted as a possible candidate, Giedo van der Garde is testing alongside Alex Rossi at Abu Dhabi, and Bruno Senna’s name has been mentioned. It would be a pity to see Kovalainen sidelined, and Petrov has been perfectly decent this year.
On day one of the young driver test it was Kevin Magnussen, in the McLaren, who topped the times with a lap just a few hundredths quicker than Antonio Felix de Costa in the Red Bull. Gary Paffett carried out essential development work for McLaren, and Robin Frijns gained valuable experience from his day in the Sauber. Nicolas Prost enjoyed his time in the Lotus, Luiz Razia ran for Toro Rosso and van der Garde spent the day evaluating aero tweaks for Caterham. The test continues today.