I’ll be honest; it’s a bit of an odd move this—Caterham appealing to fans through crowdfunding in order to raise enough money to race in Abu Dhabi. The team was placed in administration and part of that process is attempting to find new buyers. Administrator Finbarr O’Connell said:
“Hopefully that will be just a stepping stone to get it back racing on a permanent basis, under new ownership. In order to achieve that one of our most useful, innovative and effective options right now is crowdfunding”.
The team have selected Crowdcube and raised £514,314 so far with 1,171 backers and that’s an average or nearly £440 per backer. The team are targeting £2,350,000 in order to get the team to Abu Dhabi. The team reckon fans, sponsors and investors will get behind the effort:
“In order to make this happen, we’ve teamed-up with Crowdcube, the world’s leading crowdfunding platform, which has raised £45m for more than 150 organisations since 2011. If we don’t hit the target by next Friday, obviously the pledged funds will be returned, but right now we are hopeful for the future of the team and we are confident that the team showing the world that it can race again will lead to a bright future under a new owner on a proper financial footing.”
On the surface, there seems to be quite a bit of interest in the process with over a half-million pounds raised so far but some fans have been asking if the target of £2,350,000 is being used to cover the expense of a weekend or if it is earmarked to pay creditors. At first blush, some fans are wondering if a single race weekend really costs over $3.7 million.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone feels that this tactic is a disaster:
“It’s up to the fans if that’s what they want to do,” he told media in the paddock at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
“Maybe people will put investment in the team.
“I think it’s a disaster. We don’t want begging bowls. If people can’t afford to be in Formula 1, they have to find something else to do.”
Ecclestone says he’s not sure what the teams are doing with all their money:
“I don’t know what they do with their money,” he said. “I don’t spend their money. We just give it to them.
“We give the teams nearly $900 million a year. We don’t spend it.
“The trouble is they haven’t really understood. People want to win, all the teams here want to win. Some teams have got more money and they spend it.
“When I had a race team a few years ago, in fact a few hundred years ago, I used to run the team according to how much money we could spend and we won the world championship.
“That’s what they don’t do. They don’t seem to understand that somebody is going to be last.”
To be fair, Ecclestone does have some idea of where the money has gone and mainly into the new engine regulations for 2014 that he is patently against and says the series needs to jettison them as soon as possible. The expense for engines was to go down but it doesn’t seem the case for 2015.
It’s also a tall ask to seek investment from fans who are already stretched thin over ticket prices and the price of concessions at race venues.