The financial crisis at Caterham has sent the team into a spiral of decline and as such, it came as no surprise that the outfit will miss the US Grand Prix weekend. However, fans were shocked by Ecclestone’s announcement earlier today that Marussia would join the leafield based squad on the sidelines next weekend, with the issue seemingly finance related. The news is hugely disheartening, but as a Formula 1 fan, such an occurrence has been on the cards for quite some time.
The global economy may have emerged from financial crisis and be experiencing widespread growth, but the Formula 1 paddock has been heading for a fiscal cliff for a while. The implications of the new powertrain were well-documented and the regulations were always going to push the envelope in what the lower budget teams could afford. However, the technology was sought after and has proved to be a worthwhile investment. Ultimately, the cost of powertrains may not have been an issue had the teams been able to negotiate a cost control programme – this failure has ultimately led to the struggles at Caterham and perhaps the budget issues at Marussia.
The competitive, dog-eat-dog world of Formula 1 has caused issues in the past and the various veiled interests of numerous teams means that financial stability is more of a pipe-dream than a realistic goal. For example, a team with a substantial wallet will not want to relinquish their advantage over a low-budget outfit because competition takes precedence. Customer cars has been touted as a potential solution, but this alters the DNA of the sport entirely and is something which even cash-strapped independent outfits have quelled.
The recent Caterham debacle is an evident result of this lack of consensus and it seems that Marussia are becoming another example. It has been a hugely tough time for the outfit, as the aftermath of the Japanese Grand Prix has taken precedence over sporting matters, and rightly so (#ForzaJules). They desperately want to retain P9 in the constructors while a Sauber team who have the potential to snatch the two points required in the event of an incident packed race continue to compete, and missing races leaves them with no opportunity to confirm their position – you cannot win the raffle without buying a ticket. Ultimately, if the proclaimed financial issues are what is preventing Marussia from taking part in Austin, then the prize money that is awarded for P9 could prove pivotal.
Regardless of the reasons, it is probable that both Caterham and Marussia will miss the Brazilian Grand Prix along with the US event due to the logistics of travelling from one race to another within a week. Hopefully, both teams will make an appearance in Abu Dhabi for the season finale as Formula 1 will face its smallest grid since 2005, this time next weekend.