LONDON (Reuters) - The Caterham Formula One team say they are going ahead with preparations to race in Japan this weekend despite bailiffs seizing items from their factory in central England on Wednesday.
The troubled team issued a statement ahead of the race at Suzuka that condemned “unfounded and unsubstantiated rumours concerning actions against 1MRT, the entrant and owner of CaterhamF1”.
“An action was threatened yesterday (Wednesday) against a supplier company to 1MRT. This company is not owned by 1MRT and it has no influence over the entry of CaterhamF1 or the entrant,” it added.
“Contrary to uncontrolled rumours, all operations are currently in place at Leafield and the race team is doing its preparation in Japan.”
A senior source close to the team confirmed to Reuters by telephone that bailiffs had visited the Leafield factory but said it was not the first time and denied reports that the facility or computer servers had been closed down.
“All this nonsense is nothing to do with the Formula One team...it is 100 percent not related to the F1 team or any company or subsidiary of the F1 team,” added the source, who did not want to be identified.
A list of seized items to be sold at a public auction, likely in mid-October, appeared later on the bailiffs’ website (www.thesheriffsoffice.com).
They included a 2013 Caterham F1 ‘test car’, steering wheels, drilling and machining equipment, wheels and assorted pit lane items such as jacks and starters.
Car parts ‘due for Japan 2014’ were also listed, although the race cars and main items of freight would normally have arrived in Japan some time ago with teams already setting up their garages in the paddock on Wednesday.
Caterham changed ownership in July when Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes sold the struggling team to an unidentified “consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors”.
Since then the new owners have been embroiled in legal action with some 40 former employees who accuse them of unfair dismissal.
There have also been issues to resolve with suppliers.
Caterham, who are last in the championship standings and have never scored a point, said in a statement in July that the staff in question were employed by a supplier rather than the Formula One team itself.
The team’s Leafield site was previously used by Super Aguri and Arrows, two now-defunct teams that collapsed due to financial problems.
Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi and Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson are Caterham’s current drivers, with Spaniard Roberto Merhi due to take part in Friday first practice at Suzuka.
Team principal Manfredi Ravetto had been quoted only this week as saying Caterham planned to take a new front wing to Suzuka that they hoped would make their cars far more competitive.
He also told the autosport.com website that work on the 2015 car was proceeding in the Toyota wind tunnel in Cologne, despite the team having to contend with ‘surprises’ inherited from the previous ownership.
“In this team, the surprises never end,” he said.
“If we keep having 10 surprises per day then we have to keep doing 10 miracles per day. So my concern is what happens when we run out of miracles.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer