Caterham F1 car seized by bailiffs
Photo Credit: IJsselstein via Compfight cc

The seizure of a Caterham F1 test car and vehicle parts intended for use in the Japanese Grand Prix is an indication of how important it is to work with creditworthy suppliers.

A statement at the beginning of October from the Sheriffs Office, which represents the interests of those working in the recovery sector, listed items said to be removed “from a Formula One team”.

The full list included:

  • Caterham F1 test car from 2013
  • Caterham F1 car parts due for Japan 2014
  • Full size F1 simulator
  • Caterham F1 steering wheels
  • F1 wheels with tyres
  • Drilling and machining equipment
  • Caterham and Lotus F1 memorabilia
  • Various pit lane equipment including jacks, pumps and starters
  • TVs, monitors and other goods and equipment

“Should the goods proceed to sale via this office, they will be sold by public auction to the highest bidder. Sale by private treaty of specific specialist items may be permissible with leave of the court,” the Sheriffs Office said.

However, Caterham F1 denied the claims, explaining that the actions were not actually carried out against the team itself, or its owner and entrant 1MRT.

“An action was threatened yesterday against a supplier company to 1MRT,” the team’s statement explained. “This company is not owned by 1MRT and it has no influence over the entry of Caterham F1 or the entrant.”

The team added that preparations for the Japanese Grand Prix remained in place at its technical centre in Leafield, while the team’s representatives in Japan continued to do their work as normal.

Ultimately the team’s drivers raced as expected, with Marcus Ericsson placed 17th and Kamui Kobayashi finishing 19th in a race severely disrupted by weather, and which ended early after an incident involving driver Jules Bianchi.

Away from the track, the story highlights how supply chain disruptions can have far-reaching repercussions, with Caterham F1 now at risk of losing a simulator training rig, and a complete 2013 test car, along with equipment and parts as described above.

Even in a big-money sport like Formula One – and perhaps even more importantly with such sums of money at stake – it is essential to credit check suppliers and customers alike, and to stay vigilant on all credit control issues to avoid the disruption and negative reputational impacts of this kind of incident.

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