Manor F1 enters administration and in fight for future
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 06/01/17 11:01pm
The Manor Formula 1 team has entered administration.
Administrators FRP Advisory were called in to the Banbury-based team by owner Stephen Fitzpatrick on Friday and admitted there is a "very limited window of opportunity" for a rescue deal to be struck in time for the new F1 season on March 26.
The administration process concerns the company which operates the F1 team, Just Racing Services Limited.
No redundancies have been made and staff have been paid in full to the end of December, with preparations for the new season continuing on Friday. Around 200 people work for the team which finished 11th in the 2016 Constructors' Championship.
But administrators say the staff situation will remain "dependent on whether new investment can be secured in the limited time available".
Fitzpatrick had been in discussions with new investors in recent months to secure the team's long-term future but no deal was struck, leading to the administrators being called in. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Sky Sports News HQ in December a potential deal with Mexican-American Tavo Hellmund was off the table.
Fitzpatrick said on Friday terms had been agreed in December on a sale to an Asian investment consortium but the deal could not be completed in time.
"Not wishing to repeat events of the past, we resolved in 2015 not to start any season that we did not know for certain we could complete, so we have taken the difficult decision to put the team's operating company into administration," he said in a statement.
Manor suffered a financial hit in the region of £11m when rivals Sauber overtook them for 10th place in the F1 standings at the penultimate round of last season in Brazil - lost prize money which Fitzpatrick admits has proved significant.
"When I took over the team in 2015, the challenge was clear; it was imperative that the team finish in 10th place or better in 2016," Fitzpatrick added.
"For much of the season we were on track. But the dramatic race in Brazil ended our hopes of this result and ultimately brought into doubt the team's ability to race in 2017."
The outfit, then known as Marussia, previously fell into administration at the end of the 2014 season but were saved when Fitzpatrick, the owner of the Ovo energy company, came forward to strike a rescue deal on the eve of the following racing campaign.
Administrators say Manor have made "significant progress" under the new ownership since then but "the position remains that operating a F1 team requires significant ongoing investment".
Manor Grand Prix Racing Limited, the sister company which holds the rights for the team's participation in F1, is not in administration.
Sky Sports understands air and sea freight has been prepared as normal at the team's factory and is ready to be shipped to Australia for March's season-opening race if a rescue deal is agreed.
The administrators' statement in full
'Geoff Rowley and Phil Armstrong, partners of FRP Advisory LLP, the business advisory firm, were appointed on 6 January 2017 as joint administrators to Just Racing Services Limited, ("The Company" or "JRSL") the operating company of the Manor Racing Formula One team (together known as "the Group").
'The Group is located in Banbury, Oxfordshire, and employs 212 staff. The Manor Racing team builds and operates racing cars that compete in the FIA Formula One World Championship ("F1").
'Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd, the sister company of JRSL, which has the rights for the team's participation in F1, is not in administration.
Geoff Rowley, joint administrator, and partner at FRP Advisory, said: "The team has made significant progress under its new ownership since the start of 2015, the highlight of which included securing a constructors championship point in the preceding F1 season, but the position remains that operating a F1 team requires significant ongoing investment.
'During recent months, the senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment to the team to secure its long term future, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available. Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place JRSL into administration.
'The joint administrators are currently assessing options for the Group.
'The 2017 season commences on 26 March in Melbourne, Australia, and the team's participation will depend on the outcome of the administration process and any related negotiations with interested parties in what is a very limited window of opportunity.
'No redundancies have been made following JRSL's entering into administration and all staff have been paid in full to the end of December.
'The ongoing staff position will however be dependent on whether new investment can be secured in the limited time available and the joint administrators will continue to review the ongoing financial position.
'Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd, the sister company of JRSL, which has the rights for the team's participation in F1 is not in administration. We remain highly focused on engaging with interested parties.'