Caterham factory closed by administrators
Staff were left locked out of Caterham's factory in Leafield on Thursday as the future of the team looks in serious doubt.
After failing to come to an agreement with administrators on Wednesday, the team's management threatened to quit and accused previous owner Tony Fernandes of not transferring shares to their investors during the sale of the team in July. Fernandes responded on Twitter, saying: "If you buy something you should pay for it. Quite simple."
The situation leaves Caterham in limbo, with team manager Manfredi Ravetto, who has been the public figure head for the new investors running the team, saying he has been told to step back.
"I've been asked by my direct superior entities to step back and this I have to follow," Ravetto told Crash.net. "So I presume that now the owners of Caterham F1 Team - who I understand is still Mr Fernandes - has to make all necessary steps from now on. I don't know how to answer this question. I would have known after last week but the scenario has now drastically changed."
His comments were followed by news on Thursday morning that employees were being turned away from the factory gates by the administrators of Caterham Sports Limited (CSL) - the company that manufactures cars for the entry holder 1Malaysia Racing Team (1MRT).
"They [the staff] can't get into the factory today," Finbarr O'Connell, a joint administrator of CSL, told Reuters. "They [1MRT] are using my facilities and haven't paid me.
"Effectively 1MRT have been in the building for last few days since I arrived. We are trying to reach an acceptable arrangement for them to be there. We had a meeting yesterday with 1MRT and lawyers and the offer they made was unacceptable. So I've sent them away.
"Hopefully they can come up with an acceptable proposal."
With the US Grand Prix just one week away, Caterham's participation is in serious doubt with its usual preparations on hold until an agreement can be reached.
Even F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone admits the situation is too complicated to make a solid prediction about the team's future.
"We're trying to help in any way we can, which we do with anybody that has run into a bit of difficulty," he toldthe BBC. "All I know is what I've been told. Not too sure it's all true either.
"It is a little bit too complicated to be able to say anything with any real knowledge".