LONDON (AFP) – Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said Friday that he was unconcerned by the struggles of teams such as Caterham and Marussia, insisting their demise would be no loss to the sport.
Comparing them to former Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, recently sentenced to five years in prison for the manslaughter of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Ecclestone said both teams were only in the headlines because of their woes.
“Nobody will miss the two teams because they’re not front-running teams; they’ve only got a name that people would know because of the problem they’re in,” Ecclestone told Campaign Asia-Pacific magazine.
“This poor guy in South Africa (Pistorius), for instance, has got more interest because of what happened with him than when he was winning gold medals,” said Ecclestone.
“If this case hadn’t happened he would have been forgotten, probably.
“Same with these two teams. You need teams like Ferrari. If you go anywhere and you say to somebody, ‘Ferrari’, they’ll know what you’re talking about. If you say ‘Marussia’, they won’t.”
His comments came as the struggling Caterham team announced they are set to return to action in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
British-based outfit Caterham’s financial problems have seen them miss the last two races since entering administration in October.
But administrator Finbarr O’Connell told the BBC on Friday: “It’s set to go. Everything’s packed and ready. We are literally waiting for a contract to be signed.”
Last Friday, Caterham announced a crowd-funding project, where members of the public make cash pledges, designed to get the team on the grid at Abu Dhabi in time for the November 23 race.
The aim was to reach a target of 2.35million-pound (US$3.7 million) by a deadline of midnight GMT this Friday. Although they are presently 500,000-pound short, sponsors have made up the shortfall in a bid to get Caterham to the Yas Marina circuit.
O’Connell said the lone outstanding contract issue surrounded the identity of one of the team’s drivers, following Marcus Ericsson’s decision to terminate his Caterham deal with immediate effect on Wednesday.
“There’s a variety of contracts but this particular one is with one of the drivers we’ve been talking to,” O’Connell said as he refused to reveal the names of drivers that Caterham had contacted.
Caterham launched the crowd fundraiser on the same day that fellow strugglers Marussia ceased trading and made nearly 200 staff redundant.
However, Caterham’s use of crowd-funding has been criticised by some of the team’s Grand Prix rivals, including Lotus owner Gerard Lopez, who argue it is absurd that a multi-billion dollar sport should seek handouts from its fans.