What’s the deal with Manor F1?

16

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

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Christine Swain

The funding is most likely being put into the B-spec car, and the narrative is being built piece by piece, rather than risking a BAR-like splat in the face.

charlie w

When do the team get their 2014 points money from FOM? That would certainly help their longevity but I still don’t think they will last beyond Monaco.

Christine Swain

In instalments – the first of which should clear by the end of the Easter holiday.

bclautz

It seems like to me. The team was saved so they can get Bernie $$$.

MichaelB

The rumors about both cars not being available to run in Asia seem odd since both ran in practice – unless the thought is that spare parts are so scarce that the parts weren’t available to fix Steven’s car…. As for the Haas vs Manor comparison – the question is, how much money is coming from the other aspects of Haas Motorsport to feed the F1 team, and how much money is Ferrari sending to Haas? Oh, and who’s paying for the Haas logo that appears on Ferrari’s SF-15T? There has been talk in the past that Ferrari was providing… Read more »

Tom Firth

The deal is this – http://www1.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/9764869/manor-marussia-will-pay-unsecured-creditors-1262p-in-the-pound

Which apparently is completely acceptable in the sport we all follow …

Christine Swain

It was acceptable to at least 75% of the creditors (by debt value), otherwise it could not have happened and Manor would have been liquidated. If the creditors are OK with it, and nobody can prove coercion, I don’t see how we as fans can object. Though I am surprised the negotiated rate ended up that low…

Tom Firth

I’m just shocked at how low that ended still, and I wasn’t really just referring to Manor. I know this has happened with lots of teams across the motorsport spectrum, and suppliers too. Whereby companies go under with lots of debt, and re-emerge with a very small rate of payout to the creditors owed, and it doesn’t only happen in motorsport either … Anyway I understand it is acceptable from a legal standpoint with 75% of the creditors (by debt value) agreeing to the deal, otherwise as you say the company would of been liquidated. I have no issue with… Read more »

runnah

Which is why this all seems more to do about money and debt rather than racing.

Tom Firth

I like the team as a “team” I don’t like the way it’s been handled financially

Tim C

We’re probably only getting half the story about what’s happening with this team. I would have to believe there’s more going on behind the scenes than what’s being said publicly. If I were in their shoes, I’d just do the best I could to keep things moving along until I could roll out a 2015 chasis. There’s no reason to spend a lot of resources on a chasis that’s going away. It will be interested to see it all play out. One positive thing is that they got the one car all the way to the end of the race.… Read more »

Negative Camber

I agree with you on the point that things are happening behind the scenes. My emotional fanboy is showing because I like this team. From the outside though, it seems very little is going on even with new, supposedly wealthy, owners.

Jeff

I don’t see much else Fitzpatrick could do; he alleviated Marussia’s secured debt with his £30 million infusion, and brokered the buy down in Tom Firth’s referenced link. One assumes the projected £30 million remainder of Fitzpatrick’s stated £60 million budget will fund staff and logistics, as well development of the actual 2015 car and its contracted subsystems. From a fan’s perspective, it’s easy grumbling that we don’t see a “Back in business!” sign or wonder why Fitzpatrick’s failed securing more sponsorship, but with the former, we’re speaking of an entity just surviving; fan impression means little because our dollars… Read more »

Nick

It’s frustrating to watch any team struggle in F1 especially when you know the sport could be run better. I just hope that any money that’s being put into Manor is being used to drive the team forward and the plan is not just to get to the end of this year but to get the team to the end of the next 5 seasons.

runnah

Do you want your favorite team to go out like James Dean or like Elvis?

Paul KieferJr

Certainly not. Yes, there is a history of teams going in-and-out in any sport: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, etc., etc., etc. and I find it annoying and reprehensible that anyone would accept this as a norm. A sports team in any sport serves to bring together a society and creates the glue that holds them together, even if it’s a global one. When a team disappears, the fabric of society is damaged and would take quite a while to repair. Even if repairs were complete, society would never be the same; in fact, it may be a little less for… Read more »