ON WAY OUT: Despite an announcement that cash-strapped Caterham would return to the grid for the season finale in Abu Dhabi, the entire staff has been made redundant. Image: AFP
LONDON, England - On the very day Caterham announced it would return to the grid in Abu Dhabi for the last race of the 2014 season the F1 team's entire staff has been served with redundancy notices.
After a controversial crowd-funding scheme raised the equivalent of R33.2-million for the embattled back-marker administrator Finbarr O'Connell announced that Caterham was heading to Abu Dhabi for the 2014 finale. A statement said it was made possible "through Crowdcube, the world's leading investment crowd-funding platform".
JUST A PR STUNT?
Crucially, Crowdcube's service accountancy and tax adviser is Smith and Williamson - the company Caterham administrator and interim team boss O'Connell works for. So, with O'Connell now faced with claims the crowd-funding project was at least in part a PR exercise, it now emerges that on the very same day it was declared a success Caterham's 230 racing team was made redundant.
Senior aerodynamicist Jim McManus told The Observer newspaper in England: "It's dismaying to see the amount of publicity surrounding the success of the crowd-funding on the same day that the entire workforce has been made redundant while owed seven weeks' salary.
"The cynic in me would suggest that the two are not unrelated and the good news has served as a convenient opportunity to bury the bad news."
O'Connell, however, team boss for now but saying his intention is to appoint an alternative, claims staff actually wanted to be made redundant: "It is a crazy situation but the most ironic thing is that most of the team was pressing me to make them redundant so their redundancy claim forms could be up and running while I tried to sell the team.
"If I sell the team they will be re-employed by the purchaser and those claim forms will, effectively, be ripped up."
As for the timing of the Abu Dhabi announcement and the redundancy letters being received by staff, O'Connell added: "I could not issue redundancy letters until Friday (Nov 14) because it was only then that I was appointed administrator to 1MRT."
McManus, however, insists that some staff "actively indicated they did not want to be made redundant".Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP finale this weekend.