Second F1 team driven into administration, IT suppliers line up to be paid

Marussia F1 is the second Formula 1 team in a week to be put into administration, while details of what fellow team Caterham F1 owes its IT suppliers emerge.


Marussia F1 is the second Formula 1 team in a week to be put into administration, while details of what fellow team Caterham F1 owes its IT suppliers emerge.

The two smallest Formula 1 teams, which make up a fifth of the grid, are teetering on the edge of insolvency and will not be racing in the US Grand Prix this weekend.

Earlier this month, bailiffs seized equipment from Caterham’s Leafield factory, posting pictures to social media of discarded car parts.

UK bailiffs The Sheriff's Police posted this picture to Twitter: "Just one of the steering wheels seized by us to be sold by Administrators to repay creditors. "

The team’s 220 staff have been locked out of the building since last week.

Dell owed £711,134

Court documents show that the Caterham F1 team, based in Leafield, Oxfordshire, owe more than £16 million to its creditors, according to the Telegraph.  

Its high power computing partner, Dell, is owed £711,134, making it the second largest creditor. Debts to Total, the French oil company, have spiralled to £784,090.

Dell provides Caterham with a mobile datacentre which collects and processes thousands of megabytes of data during training and races.

It also provides Caterham with its high performance computing infrastructure (HPC), used to design F1 cars with computational fluid dynamics. This replicates wind tunnels to improve aerodynamics of the cars, which, in the long-term, was proposed to cut costs on renting wind tunnels like its competitors.

The team’s wifi is supplied by Motorola Solutions. Motorola WLAN partner Toranet installed a Motorola wifi network throughout its premises in 2012. Motorola, which was acquired by Zebra Technologies this morning, is yet to respond to ComputerworldUK’s enquiries on any outstanding fees.

Caterham’s IT chief, Bill Peters, spoke to CIO magazine about how he hoped background support could change the struggling team’s performance on the track just last year.

Marussia's IT commitments

The Marussia F1 team, which was also taken over by administrators yesterday, uses Sage software for its ERP system. Sage would not comment on any outstanding costs it may be owed.

The team brought in the new system to move from time-consuming siloed spreadsheets to a single view ERP system last year.

Meanwhile, the carmaker's 6,500 core HPC system was installed and maintained by outsourcer CSC for aerodynamic car design. CSC also ran the team’s track-side IT including telemetry and ensuring 100 percent availability throughout training and races. CSC was unavailable to comment on Marussia's financial woes.

Marussia’s administrator, Geoff Rowley at FRP Advisory, said: "During recent months, the senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment to the team to secure its long term future, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available. Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place the company into administration.”

He added that although Marussia, like Caterham, would not be taking part in the US Grand Prix this weekend, there was a chance that it could perform in the next two races in Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi, should an investor make an offer in the “small window of opportunity”. 

“No redundancies have been made following the company's entering into administration and all staff have been paid in full to the end of October. The ongoing staff position will however be dependent on whether the company can secure new investment in the limited time available,” he said. 

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