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Speculation swirls around Fernandes' Caterham team

By Alan Baldwin

(Reuters) - Caterham owner Tony Fernandes triggered speculation about the future of his tail-end Formula One outfit on Friday after declaring "F1 hasn't worked" on Twitter before closing his account.

The team have not scored a point in various guises since entering the sport in 2010 and the Malaysian said in January that he could quit if they did not show signs of improvement.

If anything they have gone backwards since, rooted to the bottom of the standings while rivals Marussia, who also entered in 2010 as Virgin Racing, scored their first ever points in Monaco in May.

There have been plenty of rumors about Fernandes' Formula One intentions with Caterham issuing a statement in May to deny the group of companies that includes the team was for sale.

While Fernandes seems to have remained keen on the niche sportscar company, there has been increasing speculation about the team being hived off.

Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok, a reserve for Caterham in 2012 when they were known as Team Lotus, could see reasons for that.

"You can understand why he's sort of fallen out of love with F1 because they haven't scored a point in five years," he told Sky Sports television.

A LOT OF MONEY

"Tony's spent an awful lot of money along with his business partner Kamarudin (Meranun).

"(His) chief rivals have scored two world championship points and it's highly unlikely you are going to beat them. So at the end of the year it could mean he has to spend another $30 million," said Chandhok.

"I could think of a fairly big reason to stop loving Formula One."

Fernandes has not been seen at races for some time and the AirAsia airline entrepreneur's sporting attentions have been more focused on his newly-promoted Premier League soccer club Queens Park Rangers.

The Malaysian has also been critical of F1's failure to introduce the sweeping cost-cutting measures that smaller teams have called for.

In January, after announcing Japan's Kamui Kobayashi and Sweden's Marcus Ericsson as his drivers, he said F1 was too predictable, too expensive and not exciting enough with insufficient chances for underdogs to surprise.

"At the moment they are just rumors," said Chandhok of the situation. "We've heard lots of rumors through the paddock.

"He's got a football team that's back in the Premiership, a motorbike team that is doing exceedingly well in Moto2...and it costs him a tenth of what it costs to run a Formula One team.

"Is it (F1) giving him the return he wants? Probably not," added Chandhok.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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