Formula One grid reduced as Manor collapses

Formula One team Manor Racing has collapsed after failing to find a buyer following a move into administration, leaving the motor racing series with only 10 teams on the grid ahead of the start of its 2017 season in Melbourne, Australia on March 24.

Manor’s operating company was placed into administration earlier this month following a failed takeover approach from an Asian consortium. The directors of Manor Racing took the decision to place Just Racing Services into administration.

Administrators FRP Advisory were appointed to secure fresh investment for the stricken UK-based team, but today (Friday) said this effort has proven fruitless. A statement issued by FRP Advisory said: “Regrettably since the appointment of administrators no investment has been secured in the limited time available to continue the Group in its present form.

“With no sustainable operational or financial structure in place to maintain the Group as a going concern, the joint administrators have now ceased trading JRSL and unfortunately have had to send all staff home from work today Friday 27 January. While all 212 staff will be paid on Tuesday 31 January, all but a small handful of staff are expected be made redundant by the end of January.”

Manor Grand Prix Racing, which owns the rights to the team’s participation in the motor racing series, is not part of the administration process leaving open the prospect that a buyer could still come forward to acquire the remnants of the team.

Northern Irish businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder and chief executive of UK energy supply firm Ovo, was confirmed as the principal investor, and effective owner, of the Manor Marussia outfit in March 2015, as the revived team declared itself ready to race for that year’s F1 season.

Manor, which operated under the Marussia name in F1 in 2014, ceased trading in November 2014 after missing the final three races of that season. FRP Advisory also acted as administrators in that attempt to secure fresh investment.

Manor finished 11th, and last, in the 2016 F1 constructors’ championship, crucially being pipped to 10th place by Sauber, which has been enduring its own long-running financial difficulties. Sauber moved into 10th place thanks to Felipe Nasr’s ninth-place finish at the penultimate grand prix of the season in Brazil. This ultimately cost Manor around £10m (€11.7/$12.3m) in prize money.

FRP administrator Geoff Rowley said: “It is deeply regrettable that the team has had cease trading and close its doors. Manor is a great name in British motorsport and the team has achieved a great deal over the past two years, invigorated under new ownership.”

Today’s news comes after US mass media company Liberty Media this week completed its takeover of Formula One. Manor’s exit, barring any late rescue, means that all three teams that entered the sport in 2010 have now collapsed.

Spanish-based HRT folded in 2012 while Malaysian-owned Lotus Racing, which transformed into Team Lotus and then Caterham, left after the 2014 season. US-owned Haas entered the sport last season, finishing eighth in the constructors’ championship.

Manor’s demise again illustrates the financial disparity which exists within the sport – an issue that has led to two of its teams taking to European competition authorities in protest. Force India and Sauber in September 2015 filed an official complaint to the European Union’s Competition Commission concerning the championship’s governance and revenue distribution model.

The two teams were battling what they claim is a privileged financial position bestowed upon the sport’s five biggest teams – Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Williams – by F1’s previous commercial rights-holder and main shareholder CVC Capital Partners.