“Credible investor” raises Marussia rescue hopes

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: A planned auction of equipment belonging to Marussia is cancelled as a potential buyer for the team emerges.


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Marussia 'close to rescue deal' (BBC)

"But Booth said the team were 'at a fairly advanced stage with a new investor - a credible investor'."

Earlier start times revealed (Sky)

"The events in Australia, Malaysia, China, Japan and Russia all have their races listed with local start times one hour earlier than last year."

Vandoorne: GP2 title key for McLaren (ESPN)

"This may be a chance for me because everyone knows that if you do not drive for a season, you will disappear from the shelf and it is very difficult to return. If I win GP2 I'll have the momentum."

Verstappen tipped to score on debut (Autosport)

"You can now drive a formula car at 15 years old. The FIA regulations allow this, and now it's possible for a 16- or 17-year-old to come into Formula One."

French driver Robert Manzon, the last of the racers from F1's first season in 1950, dies at 97 (ABC)

"Friends of the family said the ex-Simca-Gordini racer, who was a founder of the former Grand Prix Drivers' Club, died at home in the south of France."


Comment of the day

Are Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and the rest really going to close the gap to Mercedes straight away?

I’d be surprised if Mercedes’ rivals have caught right up by Australia.

Ferrari have pretty much already ruled themselves out and I very highly doubt Williams, Lotus or Force India are going to out-aero Mercedes.

The only team who realistically could challenge are Red Bull, but all of this could well be dependent on whether Renault have upped their game or not. It is way too early to say where McLaren are with their Honda package. We simply do not know with them right now.

I’m sorry to say it, but I fear that the first half of the season at least will be much of the same from 2014 in terms of having a championship duel.

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73 comments on ““Credible investor” raises Marussia rescue hopes”

  1. Few things would make me happier than to see (the team formerly known as) Marussia somehow make it to Melbourne. Proper old school racers they are.

    While buying the team so close to the season’s start will be a real competitive disadvantage, it certainly is a way to push the price down, especially if the buyer is entitled to collect the $35 million or so in prize money.

    Perhaps a 2015 compliant car could be introduced part way through the season, based on the work Marussia had already done on this season’s design.

    1. Certainly any serious attempt to running the team would purely use 2015 as a place holder year for the real effort in 2016 I would think.

    2. Perhaps a 2015 compliant car could be introduced part way through the season, based on the work Marussia had already done on this season’s design.

      I thought the 2015 design was sold in the December auction. This was part of the auction: http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–gA8G5J7x–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/gi075eh9dvnk9viggmlb.jpg

      1. That looks like a 1:2 scale working model for wind tunnel testing.

        1. @john-h Although I find it hard to correctly judge dimensions based on this picture, you may well be right. But what I meant was that if this model was indeed sold in the auction, that particular design is now under new ownership (Haas?) and any new Marussia owners probably aren’t allowed to work with that any more.

          1. @mattds Depends on who the new Marussia owners are ;). I think @mike is on the money, @tdog.

          2. @mattds
            The wind tunnel model is just a piece of hardware, rights do not go with it, just like when you buy a hard drive. Any sale of rights would be a separate entity. I do not know whether Marussia sold rights to the design with the model, but I would expect them to hold on to their intellectual property, because it is one of their key assets (along with their F1 slot).

          3. @ph True, so it makes sense for Haas to try and collect that to go with it..

    3. There’s a rumor floating around that Haas may be the last-minute investor. He could buy the rest of Marussia and run it for 2015 as a prelude to launching the “real” Haas F1 for 2016.

      It’s not the craziest F1 rumor I’ve heard– I mean, who woulda thought Alonso would go back to work for Ron Dennis?

  2. I’d love to see Marussia (and Caterham) on the gird, but what are the chances of them reappearing and starting all over again like in 2010? they missed a lot of development last year, and who knows how far behind schedule they are at this point.

    1. Caterham were allowed to use their 2014 car in 2015 last December, Marussia could probably get the same treatment.

      I think the problem is not with having a base, cars and staff. HRT had a minimal base with minimal staff in 2012, which I think indicates that it is possible to run a team starting only this late in the season.

      The main problem in my eyes would be getting the suppliers on board. Caterham and Marussia, under whatever name, lack the adaptability of BrawnGP in early 2009 so are unlikely to be able to find a new engine partner and remodel their cars. However, it seems unlikely Renault and Ferrari (not to mention suppliers of other parts) will be easily persuaded into forgetting about past bills, while new buyers might not be looking to invest millions and have part of them go straight to old bills.

      I’d love for both teams to be on the grid, but from a business point of view it seems very unlikely. Then again, most things do in F1, from a business point of view..

      1. Would Honda be open to supplying Marussia? The extra mileage and data would be beneficial in development and reliablity.

        1. @ambroserpm Not jn 2015.

          A) the 2014 chassis is built to take a Ferrari engine
          2) Honda have stated they’re only supplying McLaren this year because they don’t even know how good their engine actually is.
          iii) Marussia owe McLaren money for development and other services rendered from their defunct tech partnership. I’m sure they’d want that back if they were to even consider not vetoing the deal.

          1. A) the 2014 chassis is built to take a Ferrari engine

            This doesn’t seem like a dealbreaker. The BGP-001 was originally built to take a Honda engine, Brawn bought the team in March and they put the Mercedes engine in.

            Given how engine mounting points are now standardized (unlike back in 2009 IIRC), it would probably be easier now than it was for Brawn.

            But yes, Honda have stated that they want to concentrate on McLaren and they will not supply another team.

          2. The rules where changed with this formula, all engines have standard mounting points, but there are other parts that might cause a fitment problem.

          3. @memorablec my point was that Brawn did it succesfully with less time to go before the start of the season and it was harder to do back then. So while a technical difficulty, it’s not an insurmountable one.

      2. @npf1 The whole point of rescuing them from Administration involves turning up and servicing or buying the debt…

        If it happens, expect the usual story of ‘Investor X buys Marussia F1 for £1’. They get the team for the nominal sum, but they’re then liable to take on all the debt owed to the creditors…

        As @tdog said above, it’s sweetened by the fact that if they run, the debt could mostly be serviced by the prize money from the CRH, but then where does the money come from to actually run in 2015?

        1. @optimaximal The administrators have been selling Marussia’s equipment, though. In some cases, a last minute save after some of the property has been sold involves larger numbers as the value of the company is what is desired by administrators. Though racing teams do usually move hands on completely different terms than ‘typical’ businesses.

          There’s also the decision from creditors to re-supply. Especially in the case of Marussia and Ferrari there has been considerable time, and Ferrari has been turned off from supplying smaller teams in the past (though that could easily turn out not to be a problem since the people around to have supplied Minardi have long been fired) or even recently with Sauber and Marussia having difficulty in paying their bills. If Ferrari takes the cash, but says they won’t supply the team for 2015, their buyers might very well call the entire deal off. With the number of companies small teams employ for parts and materials, that could be a dealbreaker for entering the season, I hypothesize.

          1. Unless Ferrari were the purchaser. A possibility I think.

          2. Hm, I would think that Ferrari, as the biggest single creditor, would rather be interested in the unit continuing, because first of all, that would more or less ensure they get paid the outstanding bill for the last year, but more importantly it helps them keep up the amount of track running, which can be critical in development (because of getting more feedback). And off course Ferrari would have spare capacity because they planned on having these 3 teams to supply.

          3. ColdFly F1 (@)
            20th January 2015, 12:22

            And … (@npf1, @john-h, @bascb)
            … Haas could be the ‘credible investor’.

            They seem to have a building available, can train staff, and might fancy some testing of the engine they will run from 2016 (give or take a few ‘tokens’).

            PS – I am sure that some aspiring F1 drivers would love to ‘sponsor’ 5/more race starts.

          4. Hm, I doubt that @coldfly. Surely he would have already grabbed that chance if he had wanted. And I have seen several reports that indeed he did buy the building and was interested in getting some of their equipment.

          5. @bascb Maybe now is the time? He’s bought the factory and 2015 IP, and if the creditors will take a haircut (better that than nothing at all?), then Marussia could race on in 2015 for not too much investment more than just preparing for 2016 costs anyway. @optimaximal

            @npf1 Ferrari also get a continued 3rd engine supply, which should get them their lost money back over time anyway, not to mention a second team to place young drivers at (e.g. Stroll). @john-h

            @coldfly On that note.. I’d bet on Gutierrez, but who knows! Who else has enough money! £500k per race is the going rate.. so £2.5m for a secure 3 year superlicence.. @coldfly

          6. Hm, the more I read about, it the more it does seem like Haas is getting in this way @fastiesty.

            I must say that would make me really happy. From his (in my opinion) stupid and arrogant comments on how he wanted to do it differently, start on his own and do it from the US etc, I had more or less lost hope of seeing his team succeed.

            If he does take up Manor, he would get a more or less operative racing team, a lot of know how, the equipment and a war-chest of about 140 million (prize money in 2015 and 2016 that would be guaranteed). As he was going to pay Ferrari for engines and for their efforts (see sponsoring them) this year anyway, I am sure they would be more than happy to make some kind of agreement on the outstanding 16 million, leaving only a relatively small amount open, compared to what Haas would have to invest to get a new team to the point where it would work about as good as Marussia did (just look at things like wiring loom all new teams struggled with in their first 2 years)

            Drivers? Who is paying is the most logical question. Indeed Guttierez might be one, but I bet there are others who can find some budget.

    2. @fer-no65 I would certainly agree that two or more additional teams would be welcome on the grid, but Marussia and Caterham?

      They’re already proven that they pretty much stand still and do not appear to have a depth of talent required that could see them being an actual threat to the mid-field.

      Both were simply not good enough in today’s F1. For sure they were a far cry from past calamities such as for e.g. Andrea Moda. But that is not really saying much is it.

      Of course we need more teams – and if there are no others forthcoming then I guess it has to be whomever is available and at least capable of putting cars on the grid.

      But Marussia and Caterham? Hardly inspirational.

      Sure, we all like to support the underdog but surely not just for the sake of it?

      1. @psynrg Replace depth of talent with depth of wallet. By entering F1 now, Haas has committed himself to also spending hundreds of millions of dollars for the next few years. Should that not be enough to compete in F1 and be more than a backmarker?

        1. @fastiesty Of course a deep wallet can afford you the best talent (but of course it isn’t a guarantee.)

          It’s the way of the world. F1 hasn’t been the playground of the garagistas for a long time now. If you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough. No matter what a nice bunch of people Marussia and/or Caterham may have on the shop floor if it doesn’t translate to any kind of success, what’s the point, in something which is all about success?

          1. @psynrg Well, I’d argue that they have been successful. Under the current monetary arrangements that F1 teams operate under, arguably, the least successful teams in recent memory have been Ferrari and McLaren.

            ‘Good enough’ in this sense just means the ability to guarantee a budget of $100m per year. Ferrari get that as a separate kickback before each year starts!

          2. @fastiesty I couldn’t agree more that the Ferrari arrangement is absolute bull*

  3. re; COTD last para

    I’m sorry to say it, but I fear that the first half of the season at least will be much of the same from 2014 in terms of having a championship duel.

    but with the proviso, that if merc have cured the reliability issues. If it is a repeat of last year, then Hamilton might just win the first 7 races and we won’t have a championship duel between team mates.

  4. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
    20th January 2015, 1:58

    I don’t understand why people say going over the limit of what a car is a capable of especially when a car is not crashing. When people say Alonso is going over the limit of what the car is capable of it makes no sense because the car is capable of going that fast, it’s just no-one else is as good.

    1. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
      20th January 2015, 1:59

      I should state that I realise Renault are talking about crashing but a lot of people talk about that when no car is crashing at all.

    2. Yeah, it’s like giving 110%. Alonso is certainly one of the best there is in terms of wringing out the maximum performance of his car, but no driver can exceed that maximum without leaving the track.

      1. Exactly. Its also why in really good cars like the Mercedes or Williams we generally see smaller gaps between the drivers. In those cars its relatively easy for a top driver to get 95% out of those cars and the best can get 97% or 98%. Alonso can drive a poor car well and get 96% out of it while most drivers struggle to get 90%, making the gap huge.

        1. It’s a hyperbole. We all know that. It physically not possible to get 110% from a car unless you are superhuman.

          1. whoever says they give more than a 100% is not too good with math.
            Theo’s comment is spot on.

          2. Not entirely true — a rocket engine routinely runs at 110% or more max rated thrust for short durations. One cannot fill a glass more than 100% (except the tendency of H20 to “bubble” due to surface tension – see “meniscus”). So yes, the 110% is a trite inaccuracy, but not entirely inaccurate based on situation. One can do 200% of the speed limit, for example, but it’s not recommended. ;)

        2. In those cars its relatively easy for a top driver to get 95% out of those cars and the best can get 97% or 98%.

          Just wanted to highlight how good F1 drivers are by adding something here: top drivers get way more than 95% out of a car. I’d say top drivers get at least 99% out of a car while the very best get 99.5%. And I think I could be understating it.

          Think about it. Say an absolutely perfect qualifying lap with the W05 around a given track takes 100 seconds flat. That is what the car is ultimately capable of. No minor mistakes.
          The very best drivers will get at least within 3-4 tenths of that, and possibly within 1-2 tenths. Top drivers will get easily within one second.
          Within one second = getting more than 99% of the lap performance out of a car.
          Within 4 tenths = getting 99.6% of the lap performance out of a car.

          98% means you’re two seconds slower than the ideal lap in a car, and more than 1.5 seconds off the time of the very best. 98% would make for a very mediocre F1 driver. 95% and you’re merely capable of making an F1 car go around a track, but as an F1 driver you’re rubbish.

          Just goes to show how close it all is.

          1. @mattds

            Yes, you’re completely correct. Just to add to what you said, I have heard that when teams are testing new parts, they usually find that if the simulations show an advantage of, for example, 0.15 seconds per lap, more often than not that is exactly what happens as soon as the part is run on the car. That is the level f1 drivers are operating at………

          2. Here is example what my math teacher gave me to show how you can get over a 100%. A engineer works out the best lap a car can do is 100 seconds as MattDs said. So to get a 100% you need to do the lap in 100 seconds. But what if he got it wrong and a driver does it in 98 second. If i ask you to tell me what the % was on the approximate time (like if 102 seconds is 98%) then 98 seconds is 102% of the approximate time. You can go over 100%.

          3. @koosoos: of course that then depends on what you define as 100%. Basically, I would say that in your example the engineer was simply wrong. The car could go faster than 100 seconds, as has been demonstrated.

          4. @Mattds. What i’m trying to show is that if you have a set amount or time it is possible to go over 100%. But i do agree you can only much the best the car can give. So basicly did he get more then a 100% on the approximate time yes, did he do more then 100% that the car got give no. Hope that make sens.
            Sorry don’t now how to explain it better in English.

          5. @mattds I agree with you, but Pat Symonds doesn’t! Back in 2006 after the Monza Qualifying Session, Symonds said that he and the engineers worked out the time loss that Alonso had with the damage, and estimated it to be at around 0.6 secs, and thus he stated that Alonso literally got more from the car than Symonds calculated was possible. But it confused me and I sorta didn’t agree. Or maybe I’m just a better engineer than Pat Symonds, right? I mean, I had the same number of victories as him last year.

          6. I understand what you’re saying @koosoos

            @mashiat2 that’s the difference between calculated estimates and measurements :)
            Calculated estimates are exactly what is inferred: an estimate that is based upon a number of variables. But it remains an estimate. So much as a short change of wind direction and speed, or a small patch of dirt or a little rock in a corner are things you can’t really adjust to in calculations (because you don’t know situations beforehand). With damage it’s a lot harder: how much time a certain kind of damage will exactly inflict is hard to know.
            He did it, and so it was possible. :)

          7. Yes, completely. People ought to understand…

            That MEGA Mercedes advantage that took 4 years to develop? It was only 1 percent at its greatest.

    3. If you say in your response to #askpastor, then you shouldn’t be surprised as Pastor never admits his faults.

      Secondly, when he hasn’t crashed, he still got beaten by his team mates

  5. Andrew Westacott said that the Australian GP will remain put and this was like almost a week ago.

    1. but still, in the end it is the FIA, and then ultimately FOM that decides when races are run isn’t it @william, so if they say it will be earlier, I guess it will? … Hope someone told the organisers :)

  6. If Marussie do find a buyer and all that, so soon before testing, what are the chances they’ll be anything but horribly slow by the start of the season?

    1. Not high. I’m feeling confident it will happen though.

      The prize money from last season will go some way to pay off the company’s debts (to suppliers). Its maybe possible to negotiate a lower PU price with Ferrari, because rather that than not get paid at all.

      Then there’s the possibility of Ferrari wanting a feeder team, like Forza Rossa or whatever it was going to be.

      I hope they return. Best looking cars on the grid these last few seasons imho.

  7. The last of the original breed. RIP Robert Manzon.

  8. Cotd. I think it’s clear by now that the gap between Mercedes and Ferrari RBR is set to widen, not to mention the gap between all the other mercedes teams which shouldn’t narrow not only because of the in-season engine development rules.

    1. I think it’s clear by now that the gap between Mercedes and Ferrari RBR is set to widen

      Yeah, I’ve been thinking this since halfway of the previous season. Mercedes have been able to build and improve upon an already very strong PU design (split turbo) while Ferrari and Renault have had to go back and reboot the foundation of their design. Which means they sort of start from scratch. They’ll have the right foundation to build upon for the coming years, but this year will be a write-off and in all honesty I don’t expect any Renault or Ferrari team to be really competitive before 2017.

      1. What ought to be disturbing the other engine manufacturers is the report that apparently Mercedes now has their fuel injectors running at the max 500bar.

        Teams like Ferrari, who were apparently already running at 500bar, must be very depressed to learn that Mercedes was kicking them around the track last year without full fuel injector pressure.

    2. @peartree @mattds
      It seems to me that the Mercedes team had to deal with big reliability issues from the very start of the season. They spent a lot of time making sure that the speed advantage they had was worth having, by ensuring the cars could get to the finish line. We know there were many packaging and aero tweaks over the season; relatively safe stuff.

      If this view is correct, they may have had risky performance enhancing mods ready but on hold. I suspect that their edgier updates were sidelined.

      Those mods could be resurfacing now, after more simulator work and refinement. They could be even further ahead of the other teams this year.

      A sobering thought.

      1. Engine Mods for reliability were allowed last season, which Renault took it’s usual full advantage of.

  9. Yeah. A Nigerian prince, right?

  10. Remember how about 12 months ago, we were all fearing another year of Vettel/Red Bull domination? Oh how times have changed.

    1. @kingshark

      Indeed. It will be very interesting this year to see how Seb gets on at Ferrari. He will always have those 4 titles, but I feel that if Kimi gets near him, questions will always be asked about his ultimate ability. Time will tell.

      1. @paulguitar Or maybe Kimi is better than his current form would indicate? In the right car he’s very strong.

        Note how the words above apply almost equally to Seb…

        1. @tribaltalker

          Yes, it is an interesting one, I think most people realize that Kimi is whole lot better than he looked last season. I see him as being similar to Button insofar as they are the type of drivers who can be almost unbeatable if they can get a car suited to their style. It is both a strength and a weakness, I suppose.

  11. Tost believes criticisms of Verstappen’s age are unfounded because junior single-seater regulations now allow drivers to move into car racing younger, and he added that there are plenty of older drivers who are not good enough.

    “Last year at this stage I got the same questions about Kvyat,” he said.

    “Max comes into Formula 1 with, I would say, 10 years’ experience [including karting], and if you go back 20 years or whatever it was a completely different scenario.

    I thought about this comment. Tost is correct: Max Verstappen does not have less experience than Esteban Ocon or even Danill Kvyat (!). Kvyat started karting at the age of 8, Verstappen at 5. And regarding Ocon: Esteban just decided to step up from karting to car racing in 2013, where as Verstappen decided to stay one year in karting. It’s not like Verstappen didn’t learn anything that year, perhaps just as much than Ocon did in car racing. Verstappen has 12 years of experience in racing and about 10 years on a high level. It’s just in karting not in cars.

    1. @matthijs I would say that experience in karting is not the same as experience in single seater cars. There have been amazing kart drivers who never got to shine in single seaters. It’s just something else.

      I don’t have as much of a problem with Verstappen as a lot of others. I don’t mind his age – in the end, age is very relative. It’s no problem when a 17-year-old steps in a GP2 or FR3.5, both of which easily attain speeds of 300km/h, but when a 17-year-old steps in an F1 car that suddely causes a big fuss?

      I am still convinced that RBR didn’t have a 2015 STR seat in mind for Max when they wanted to sign him into their talent programme. They would probably have wanted him to be in FR3.5 or GP2 for an extra season (or two?). I think they used it as the ultimate offer to outbid Mercedes, possibly even suggested and forced by the Verstappens themselves.

      1. @mattds

        I would say that experience in karting is not the same as experience in single seater cars. There have been amazing kart drivers who never got to shine in single seaters. It’s just something else.

        You are true, but the same goes for every other step on the junior ladder. Martin Brundle was Senna’s nemesis in F3, but never came close in F1. The other way around, Michael Schumacher was good in junior series, but only genuinly excelled in F1.

        I am still convinced that RBR didn’t have a 2015 STR seat in mind for Max when they wanted to sign him into their talent programme. They would probably have wanted him to be in FR3.5 or GP2 for an extra season (or two?). I think they used it as the ultimate offer to outbid Mercedes, possibly even suggested and forced by the Verstappens themselves.

        I think so too.

        1. @matthijs you’re right in that each step of the junior ladder poses new risks and good performances in one doesn’t automatically mean good performances in a higher series.

          However I do think there’s a bigger divide between karting on the one side and cars on the other side. I believe that a correlation of performing well in F3 and then in GP2 or FR3.5 will be higher than a correlation of performing well in karts and then in F3. Basically car racing, be it F3 or GP2 or F1 (even if there are differences between these), requires a completely different style of racing than karts.

          1. @mattds
            Your arguments make good sense. On the other hand, I think the value of karting on world class level should not be underestimated. Esteban Ocon and Verstappen were great rivals in karts as well, Ocon just decided to make the step to car racing one year earlier than Verstappen.

        2. ColdFly F1 (@)
          20th January 2015, 12:36

          (@mattds, @matthijs)

          possibly even suggested and forced by the Verstappens

          Probably yes.
          They could be right though; he did very well during his FP1 outings.

          1. It’s rather weird though. About 12 months ago the Verstappens insisted to take it slow, step by step, 5 year plan etc. All to prevent Max from making the same mistakes his dad made (debuting too early). Perhaps they seized the opportunity after the Frijns-debacle.

  12. I am glad that the start time for those races is set earlier. The late hour start contributed to worse weather and some time worse visibility because of dusk, and sadly I have the feeling that it contributed to Jules accident. Maybe that is because those races are allowed to start earlier, sacrificing TV viewing figures?

  13. They really need to communicate thr message about changed start times to the thousands of people who bought tickets.

  14. Quantum?

  15. By the way, I just realised that Melbourne will start at 6 in the morning for me … #motivation …

  16. I’m struggling to think of a good reason why a buyer for Marussia / Manor has come along now when they weren’t interested before.

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