I’m most likely not alone in my sigh of relief when Marussia was saved as Manor F1 after a long bankruptcy process. There are terrific folks working for that team and after their tragic 2014 season, it was a sign of hope for a team that really needed it.
I may be alone, however, in my concern for this team after failing to run a single car for the entire weekend at the Australian Grand Prix and managing to only get one car to the grid in Malaysia on Sunday.
From the outside looking in, it appears the team was saved and allowed to grid up but I do not see an influx of resources to this team. No sponsors on the car, the lack of running in Oz and only managing one car in Malaysia has me wondering what kind of rescue plan Manor actually got?
The team is running a modified 2014 chassis with a 2014 Ferrari engine and according to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, they had no intention of racing in Australia with an engine and gearbox that had no life left in them. Now there are rumors that the team couldn’t even race both cars in Malaysia to which team boss Graeme Lowdon responded, telling AUTOSPORT:
“I can guarantee you if that car could have moved, it would have raced,” Lowdon said.
“There is absolutely no question about it. And it would have qualified.
“The systems and the people were perfectly happy with the results of everything in [practice] one, two and three from that point of view, and if you look at the run plans we weren’t going round and round and round in one, two and three because we had very specific tasks in ticking things off.
“Quali we had very clear run planning for both cars, and we would have definitely raced with two cars.”
We’ve seen more infusion of resources, organization and activity from the Haas F1 team as far as owners go than we have Manor and the former isn’t even in the series yet. So where are the investment dollars from Stephen Fitzpatrick? He’s the new owner but I’m not sure this start to the 2015 season sends a message that a new owner with the resources necessary to support a full Formula 1 team is being seen—from the outside at least.
Perhaps all of the cash Fitzpatrick brought to the team is being used in ways that fans cannot see. Such as building the new 2015 chassis and getting the new Ferrari engine securely fastened. Fair enough but I’m stumped as to why the team hasn’t had some visible signs of a heartbeat and panache or at least a message like, “Under new management, we’re excited to be working with our new sponsor XYZ company”. There is really very little communication about what the team are working on and what’s happening inside.
When all the new teams came to F1 (Caterham, Marussia and HRT), I liked the Manor GP team the most and the folks involved were people I knew to be race professionals with serious intent. I adopted this team as my “new team” to cheer for.
So far the new owners aren’t giving me much reason to cheer and that’s a shame because this team needs support but isn’t asking for it nor is it creating a narrative to get behind. If this team was “worth saving”, as Fitzpatrick said, then tell us why and let’s get in front of the negative publicity coming from Ecclestone and others in order to give the team a chance to gain some footing in F1.
In the end, I think we were hoping that the team had a seriously well-funded new owner that was going to put some serious cash behind the effort, not just buy the team and keep it limping along hoping that they can get a car or two on the grid each race weekend. If that is what he has in mind, then I might argue that it wasn’t worth saving. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this team and that’s why this hurts.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT