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Manor on brink of collapse as buyout hopes fade

The Manor Racing team is forced into administration and now only has a 'limited window of opportunity' to be saved from collapse.
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.

Manor's popular Twitter account hasn't been updated since the end of 2016, with no new 2017 messages.

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January 06, 2017 10:51 AM

Teams have come and gone, with little concern. However, Manor's departure does concern me for different reasons. Clearly, the team was well run last year and arguably over-achieved with the resources available to them. F1 needs to be financially viable for all properly operated teams. Manor helped contribute to the show but they reap little of the financial rewards for doing so. Hopefully, Liberty will understand this issue. When the heads of Ferrari and Mercedes say cost caps cannot work and they will continue to spend, well, they are essentially saying they do not need the very large slice of the pie they currently receive. Cut the top four teams' revenue in half and distribute this equitably amongst the others. This will help.


January 06, 2017 1:33 PM

There aren't that many people prepared to invest the kind of money required to even finish 11th in the team championship. ... We have seen this movie before and we will see it again and again in the years to come. I believe that there needs to be a more equal distribution of the revenue if you expect any team to develop into a competitive force.

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