Like many others, I was a bit surprised to hear Team Lotus had bought Caterham. After a record year in 2010 for sales and profits, why was a takeover needed?
But spend just a few seconds in the company of Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes or Caterham chief Ansar Ali and you’ll wonder why the deal wasn’t done a long time ago.
Yes, the deal has an F1 element, but Caterham is not about to prostitute itself by ditching Sevens for baseball caps.
Fernandes’ purchase will allow Caterham to carry on doing what it does best: making Sevens. He brings exposure to emerging markets and the possibility of making more people aware of just how brilliant Caterhams are to drive.
Fernandes’ cash will allow the Seven to continue to evolve, develop and stay relevant. Indeed, Ali says only legislation will be the only thing that ever changes the Seven.
The management at Caterham are clearly a bright bunch. The most recent Seven, the Supersport, is perhaps now the pick of the bunch with its back to basics ‘less is more’ approach. A car like the Supersport is a breath of fresh air as a sports car that doesn’t weigh the earth and is packed full of electronic aids.
And all the talk at today’s announcement at Duxford was based around the Seven; all speakers wanted to see it evolve and prosper and there was even a promotional video around how the Seven was the real winner in this deal.
We’ll find out more of Fernandes’ plans for Caterham at Silverstone in July. When I spoke to him last week he’d yet to have a go in a Caterham, but yesterday he got to find out what he was buying into.
Motorsport manager Simon Lambert took him for a spin in an R500 around Caterham’s Dartford base. “It scared the hell out of me,” said Fernandes. “It felt like we were going hundreds and hundreds of miles per hour. But when I had a go I could feel how special it was.”
There’s one after hours goal that Fernandes has his sights set on achieving at Caterham. “Hopefully soon I’ll be able to do a doughnut…”
He’s certainly bought the right firm if he’s ever going to achieve that.