LONDON (Reuters) - The Caterham Formula One team have made 230 staff redundant while still planning to race in next weekend’s Abu Dhabi season-ender, an administrator said on Sunday.
Finbarr O’Connell told Reuters that the team, who went into administration last month, would take 40 people to the Yas Marina circuit with their expenses to be paid with money raised through a crowd-funding initiative.
Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi will resume his role with Caterham at the race, a team statement said, with the other driver to be announced in due course after Swede Marcus Ericsson severed ties with the team ahead of a move to Sauber for next season.
Caterham raised 1.92 million pounds of a targeted 2.35 million pounds by last Friday, with the deadline reset to midnight on Nov. 23, but still face an uncertain future.
O’Connell said the redundancies had come at the request of a majority of the staff who had wanted to start a formal claims process that takes at least a month before any payments are made, if the team is not sold.
“We are going to Abu Dhabi, racing and talking to potential buyers with meetings already arranged out there,” he said. “The second track is that, at the same time the claims forms will be up and running.
“A best outcome could be for staff to get redundancy, arrears of pay and then if someone comes along (and buys the team) they would get paid again.”
O’Connell acknowledged he was in a ‘race against time’ but there were four or five interested parties with the necessary funds, including one that would be a “phenomenal opportunity” if it happened.
The staff at the Leafield factory in central England have not been paid since the end of September and have worked without pay for the past seven weeks in a bid to keep the team alive.
Rivals Marussia, who also went into administration last month, have ceased trading with some 200 staff made redundant.
Both teams missed the last U.S. and Brazilian Grands Prix, leaving a grid of just nine teams and 18 cars.
O’Connell said he had first discussed redundancy with the Caterham staff last month after they were “effectively abandoned” by entry holders 1MRT, founded by Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes.
“They were very supportive but asked would I agree, if the team was not sold by Friday Nov. 14, to organise them to be made redundant,” he added.
The administrator said only about 17 of the 230 had not wanted to be made redundant and they were not members of the race team.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis