By Carlo Carluccio
Written in association with Missed Apex Podcast. Listen in the player below the article.
As F1 heads into the new season, it appears that Manor F1 – the last of the remaining teams that started in 2010 - has started its last race. Reports emerging from the team appear to confirm that talks have broken down between all parties leaving the British team in administration and facing closure.
Manor Motorsport has been in negotiations with potential new buyers since late last season following a decision by the owner Stephen Fitzpatrick to off-load the outfit. Initially reports suggested that a consortium headed by American businessman Tavo Hellmund were negotiating with the team but ultimately talks stalled which triggered interest from other parties.
In recent weeks, rumours began circulating that Ron Dennis was a potential buyer because of his links with the Manor racing director, Dave Ryan. Former sporting director Graeme Lowdon and an Indonesian billionaire Ricardo Gelael had also emerged as interested parties.
The 2017 car has been designed and is currently being built at the team’s Banbury headquarters but lack of funding has forced closure upon this proud outfit.
As late as November, Manor had made a request to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for an advance on its championship payments for next year. Last year the team, along with Sauber and Force India, made similar requests which were granted.
The payments received by the teams are paid from February through to November. With the significant regulation changes introduced for this season – necessitating completely new cars being built - the pressure on finances is greater this winter than in previous seasons.
Manor released a statement: “Yes, in common with other teams, we have requested an advance payment of a proportion of prize monies due to our team in 2017.
“As you will be aware, there is a precedent for this request being made and granted in the past, in order to assist teams during the car build period.
“We were also one of the several teams to be granted an advance payment for 2016.”
The team originally entered the 2010 F1 championship as Virgin Racing along with fellow new teams from Hispania Racing Team and Lotus F1. By 2011 the team had changed its name to the Marussia Virgin Racing team.
One year on and Virgin had pulled out of F1 and the team was subsequently rechristened to Marussia F1 and it was under this name that Jules Bianchi scored the team’s first ever points in the 2014 Monaco GP. Tragedy befell the team at that year’s Japanese GP, when Bianchi was tragically injured, and the team endured the remaining races with stoic resolve.
Before the end of the ‘14 season, Marussia was placed into administration and in January 2015 it collapsed owing $60 million to creditors including Ferrari and Mclaren.
A rescue package was in place by the time Graeme Lowdon and John Booth announced that Manor Marussia would enter the 2015 season after the outfit had been bought by Fitzpatrick - with former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King as Chairman.
The team continued to struggle throughout the season and both Lowdon and Booth resigned at the season’s end, at which point a rechristened Manor F1 emerged.
With power-trains provided by Mercedes and transmission and associated ancillaries provided by Williams – the team expected to be more competitive during the 2016 season.
Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein proved his ability with a points finish in Austria and was teamed with Esteban Ocon over the last 9 races. Jordan King - the highly rated British development driver - also had outings in the car.
Sadly, as evidenced throughout the history of F1, another ambitious under-dog has failed to endure the financial drain imposed by the demands of Formula One.