Bailiffs cast doubt on Caterham F1 auction

LONDON/SUZUKA (Reuters) - A planned auction of Formula One equipment seized from the troubled Caterham team may be cancelled due to "fast moving developments", the British bailiffs who seized the items said on Thursday.

The Sheriffs Office said on their website that it was unclear whether the goods, which included a test car and parts supposedly meant for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, would be sold off.

No details were given, although reasons could include repayment of the judgement debt or items being taken in error from a party not involved in the dispute.

The bailiffs had seized items from Caterham's Leafield headquarters in central England on Wednesday, embarrassing the team and raising question marks about their ability to participate in Sunday’s race at Suzuka.

However, a team insider told Reuters that it had been business as usual at Leafield on Thursday, with engineers holding a teleconference with technicians at the circuit.

A new front wing, which the team hope will improve the car's performance in their battle to move up from last in the constructors' championship, had already been sent to Japan by air freight.

The only indication of anything unusual was the presence of radio and television reporters camped outside for several hours.

"Everything ran smooothly but it was the most stressed quiet day I've had," added the employee, who asked not to be named.


Rumours had begun to circulate on Wednesday that the team had been forced to halt operations and shut down servers at the factory, a move that could have hampered the work of engineers in Japan even if a work-around was possible.

However the team issued a statement on Wednesday, European time, condemning the "unfounded and unsubstantiated rumours".

They said they were preparing as normal and denied the raid had anything to do with the team's new owners, who took over in July after Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes sold out.

The bailiffs said separately that their action had been against Caterham Sports Limited, which the new owners say does not belong to them.

In a damp and overcast Suzuka, drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson said they were waiting to talk to principal Manfredi Ravetti when he arrived on Friday.

"I read some of the stuff and, like I said, it’s a lot of speculation," Sweden's Ericsson told reporters.

"I don’t know what’s true or not and I’m not sure. But for me everything has been normal on the track and we’ve done a normal preparation so that’s the thing that I’m focussed on and I need to care about, really."

Ravetto, who took over as principal only last month when Dutchman Christijan Albers stood down, is scheduled to be at a news conference at the circuit on Friday.

"We are waiting to see what happens really," said local hero Kobayashi, striking a more cautious tone.

"I think it's very difficult to say. At the moment, I think we can still communicate with the UK so I think it looks as if the company is OK but I don't know the rest really," he said before adding: "Unfortunately."

The list of seized items to be auctioned off was published on the bailiffs' website ( and included steering wheels, wheels and assorted pit lane items such as jacks and starters.

The high costs of competing in Formula One have hit several teams hard, with Marussia and Sauber also among those struggling.

(Editing by Mark Meadows)

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