The Manor Racing F1 team has slipped into administration after its efforts to find a new buyer over the winter fell by the wayside.
According to a report by Sky News
, Manor Racing owner Stephen Fitzpatrick, who purchased the team two years ago, had been lining up FRP Advisory to oversee the administration process.
This has since been confirmed, though it is the Just Racing Services that is listed in administration, not Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd, which owns the valuable F1 entry.
"The team has made significant progress since the start of 2015, but the position remains that operating a F1 team requires significant ongoing investment," administrator Geoff Rowley said in the statement.
"The senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available.
"Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place [Manor Racing] into administration."
The latest potentially conclusive twist in the Manor saga, Fitzpatrick – owner of the OVO energy company – has been attempting to attract new investors into the team over the past year, but while he insisted a deal was close when asked during the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, this hasn't materialised.
Sky News says the team, which is yet to announce any drivers for the 2017 F1 season, will continue to operate for the time being and will actively continue seeking new owners.
The news comes more than two years after Manor looked set to be disbanded after falling into administration, only to be saved in a late buyout. The team competed in 2015 with Graeme Lowdon and John Booth still at the helm, but they would exit towards the end of the season as Fitzpatrick made new acquisitions and partnerships, including luring ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan to join as sporting director, while Mercedes came on board to supply engines.
With the combination of Pascal Wehrlein, Rio Haryanto and latterly Esteban Ocon in 2016, Manor enjoyed its most competitive season since its 2010 debut, with the former picking up only the team's second-ever top ten finish in Austria. Cruelly for the team though, it still finished 11th and last in the constructors' standings following a late points' finish by Sauber, denying it crucial prize money that would have gone a long way to assuring its future under new buyers.
Prospective buyers had reportedly included Tavo Hellmund, the driving force behind F1's return to the USA, and former boss Lowdon. Talks to re-sign Haryanto – and secure significant funding from Indonesian oil firm Pertamina – collapsed over the weekend.
Manor's woes provide a fresh challenge for new F1 owners Liberty Media, who have previously suggested they would be interested in introducing a cost cap to give smaller teams a leveller playing field to compete.
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