Manor Racing owner Stephen Fitzpatrick has admitted the team's failure to repel Sauber in the fight for tenth in the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship constructors' standings has potentially cost it a future in the sport.
Six years after making its F1 debut under the Virgin Racing label, Manor enjoyed its strongest-ever season in the sport last season courtesy of its youthful driver line-up comprising Pascal Wehrlein, Rio Haryanto and Esteban Ocon, and its competitive Mercedes power units.
Culminating in a hard fought 10th place finish for Wehrlein in the Austrian Grand Prix – marking only the second time in its history that Manor had scored points – the minnow outfit was seemingly on course for a significant prize money reward provided it could retain its 10th place in the constructors' ahead of Sauber.
NEWS: Manor on the brink of collapse after slipping into administration
However, when Felipe Nasr claimed a ninth place result in the weather-affected Brazilian Grand Prix – the penultimate round of the season – to promote Sauber ahead of Manor to tenth, it cost the British outfit approximately £10 million in revenue.
Coming at a time when Fitzpatrick – who purchased the team ahead of the 2015 season – had been discussing terms with potential investors, the loss of tenth overall has seemingly dealt a fatal blow to talks.
"For much of the season we were on track," Fitzpatrick told the BBC
. "But the dramatic race in Brazil ended our hopes of [finishing 10th] and ultimately brought into doubt the team's ability to race in 2017. We made a huge amount of progress on and off track but ultimately it was not enough."
Administrators have been called in to handle the affairs of Just Racing Services Ltd – owners of Manor Racing – but while the search for a new buyer goes on, it admits there is a limited window in which to save the team.
Somewhat ironically, having delivered the result that dealt the blow to the team,, Nasr was one of the drivers in the frame for one of Manor's yet-to-be-filled seats.
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