London: Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has told the ailing Caterham team they can miss the next two Grand Prix without penalty as administrators continue their quest to find a buyer for the perennial backmarkers.
Caterham`s new owners and previous chief Tony Fernandes have been locked in a bitter and public war of words, while the team`s factory in England was closed on Thursday, putting at risk the future of some 200 staff.
Administrators confirmed Friday that Caterham would not be in a position to compete in both next weekend`s United States Grand Prix and the ensuing race in Brazil a week later.
Such action would normally lead to a penalty being imposed by Ecclestone but, in light of Caterham`s situation, he has decided against any punishment in the hope a buyer can be found for the struggling marque, with administrator Finbarr O`Connell optimistic someone of "proper financial backing" will eventually charge.
A statement issued on behalf of Ecclestone on Friday said: "In a telephone conversation today between Finbarr O`Connell and Bernie Ecclestone, Mr Ecclestone agreed to support the administrators in their wish to sell the Formula One team to a party with the financial strength to sustain it into the future.
"Mr Ecclestone also agreed to give dispensation to Caterham F1 such that it could, if necessary, miss the US and Brazilian Grands Prix, but hoped that a new owner would be in a position to race the team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix."
The administrator has also been placed in charge of 1MRT, the company which owns Caterham`s licence to race in Formula One.Ecclestone`s statement added: "Mr Colin Kolles, the previous principal of the team, offered today to hand over management control of 1MRT to the administrators.
"Lawyers for the administrators and Mr Kolles are currently working on the paperwork to effect this transfer.
"It is hoped that any purchaser of the F1 team will take over the employees and they will be able to recommence their work including that at the Leafield site."
The option of skipping races will give O`Connell additional time to address concerns regarding the safety of Caterham`s cars raised by Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi.
"You will know one of the drivers complained about technical difficulties with the car and feared for his safety," O`Connell said earlier on Friday.
"So we are looking into those because clearly the cars have to be safe before they can be driven, so that`s the main issue I have at the moment."
He added: "Our objective is to get this team racing on a proper financial standing, and hopefully if a funder comes through, this team can run again.
"It`s early days, but there is a major hope that all of that can happen."
On Thursday, the combative Fernandes accused the consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern businessmen who took charge of the outfit in June of failing to honour their obligations.
"If you agree to buy a business, you must pay its bills," Fernandes said.
"They have breached that promise and now, sadly, it is others such as the employees and the fans of the Caterham F1 team that will suffer if the team ceases to race."
His accusation came just 24 hours after Engavest, which represents the group, threatened legal action against the Malaysian, with Kolles saying: "You have to understand this deal was done on full disclosure basis.
"All the conditions and precedents have been fulfilled by the buyer. We have our position, and there is nothing more to say."