F1 grid may shrink again as Manor face administration

2017 F1 season

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Just ten teams could contest the 2017 F1 season as Manor is facing the threat of administration.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, who saved the team from collapse two years ago, is preparing to enlist FRP Advisory as administrators according to a report from Sky.

Manor enjoyed one of their most competitive showings last season as Pascal Wehrlein scored their second points since the team was founded as Virgin in 2010. However they dropped from tenth to last place in the constructors’ championship at the penultimate round, depriving them of a potential prize money windfall of several million pounds.

Fitzpatrick has been in discussion with potential investors since the middle of last season. Speaking ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix he admitted some frustration over the difficulty of competing in F1 due to the costs involved.

“One of the things I was quite clear on, right from the start, was that I accepted that in the current F1, money equals performance, so anything that was going to bring more funding to the team and help the team develop and progress I was very open and if that meant bringing another investor, even a majority investor, that was something I was happy to do.”

At the time Fitzpatrick said he had “agreed terms with an investor” but were “still working through that”. No further details of any investment have been forthcoming since then.

He also admitted that losing tenth place in the championship to Sauber had a bearing on the team’s negotiations. “It doesn’t help financially but the terms of our agreement have been refinalised, let’s say.”

“It was clear that in tenth place with one point on the board, two races left, that there are lots of scenarios and you plan for those in advance, so, from my point of view it’s disappointing but it’s not unexpected – or at least not a surprise.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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52 comments on “F1 grid may shrink again as Manor face administration”

  1. They really ought to change how money is distributed. At least make the gap between 10th and 11th smaller. This wasn’t some HRT or Andrea Moda or whatever. This was a good team, a valuable addition to F1. Shame on the sport, shame on fellow teams

    1. Not sure how much fellow teams could have done to help in this scenario.

      1. I guess Sauber could have brought Nasr in to avoid getting points @square-route, though I doubt that would have been a satisfactory ‘solution’ :-p

      2. Redistributed the CCB payments so that all teams have a chance to at least remain in the sport. But that would require a lot of renegotiation and I don’t see that happening until 2020 – unless F1 itself lands in administration.

        1. @alianora-la-canta …or the EU comes knocking.

          1. Which I think will be in 2019 (the European Commission is as slow as a sloth in the summertime), just in time for the 2020 agreements to be modified accordingly ;)

      3. You don’t think that a few million per piece from the top four or five teams would have saved some backmarkers whilst not even making a dent on their bottom line?

        1. @hahostolze Yeah, you try selling that to the shareholders… What do you think this is, FOTA?

    2. They should reverse the prize money payments – last place gets the most money and first place gets the least. Or perhaps all competitors should get the same cash and race for the glory alone.

      1. @rsp123 That’s a fantastic idea, it’s like success ballast, but with money.

      2. @rsp123 That’s all well and good until every team pulls out – glory doesn’t pay peoples wages.

        What needs to happen is Bernie (holder of the purse-strings) needs to cover every team with enough to run the team & the cars. This clearly needs to come out of whatever Column of the arcane payment system creams money off for Ferrari, McLaren & Williams just for turning up. I’m perfectly happy with Red Bull and Mercedes getting money from their recent success (, for now) – it’s an incentive for their to stay, not poddle off to another series.

  2. How many small, but passionate and enthousiastic teams have to face administration before something gets changed? Manor is indeed a fine team and an asset to the sport.

    1. Unless teams like Ferrari, redbull monopoly is removed or their say in administration is removed this sport can’t survive longer.

    2. exactly right. it is properly saddening to see this happen year after year without fail. why doesnt someone get bernnie to read the veiws of the fans, actually come down to a fans level and get some vibe of the feeling.
      there are so many examples out there – HTR being the last one i remember. no this isnt a cheep sport and we dont expect that but it doesnt have to be this bad surely?

  3. Maybe the new owners can use this as a catalyst and step up to the plate to keep the field intact – one can only hope. It will be such a pity if this team goes kaput, the sport would be a poorer place without Manor.

    1. @ahxshades while i would love to keep Manor they can’t do this. Imagine what, FI, Williams etc. would say, where is my handout…

      1. @anonymouscoward I take your point on board, but I still see it as an opportunity for Liberty to show that things can change and start the conversation going about funding splits. Unfortunately I can’t see it happening though.

    2. well said Adrian, if nothing else they bring some colour to the grid where the others remian ‘corperatre’ but they are a team of passion that (arguably) exceeds that of the bigger teams and thats what counts

  4. You know what upsets me most about being a Formula 1 fan?

    It’s not uneventful or predictable races. It’s not Mercedes dominance or the hybrid engine sounds or DRS.

    It’s seeing good, plucky teams like Manor completely unable to compete and forced out of the sport due to the currently unsustainable competition structure.

    As F1’s popularity is declining, it’s going to be decreasingly likely to see big budget or factory teams want to join the grid – which makes the independents like Manor all the more valuable.

    This news has ruined the off-season for me.

    1. Quite agree. Until F1’s insane broken financial model is fixed there is little hope. The basic finances of the sport need to allow teams to compete, if you fix that then so many other problems become easier to fix.

    2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      6th January 2017, 12:46

      @willwood I have literally never agreed with a post more in the five years I’ve been using F1Fanatic. + 1 million

      1. agreed on that score William (even if i havent been using this one long)

    3. Totally agree +1

  5. C’mon RON! This is a sign! BUY BUY BUY.

  6. Makes sense why Werhlein is choosing to go to Sauber next year, it will at least be there.
    The rumours of Ron Dennis buying the team could become more a possibility now.

  7. Such a pity…For me Manor is like the Minardi of our era:a fighting team,with interesting drivers despite their financial issues.Especially after what happened with Jules,this team will be always in my mind.I was extremelly happy when Wehrlein managed to get points in Austria.Hopefully they will be saved,perhaps from R.Dennis as it has been heard.

  8. Teams like force India give their very best for their 4th in the standings, but still Williams, McLaren earn more in the name of crap ” historic f1 teams”. F1 is at its best when a brawn wins not a Mercedes. F1 won’t survive at this rate.

  9. Guybrush Threepwood
    6th January 2017, 11:58

    It’s the cost of these new engines as much as anything that have forced these teams out.

    These hybrid engines are the worst thing to happen to F1 – at least the way they’ve been regulated anyway.

    1. But a lot of the regulation has now been removed, they’re cheaper now than they ever were and Manor were actually running the cheapest (and best) engine on the grid. This years cars were also faster on a single lap at some tracks than the fabled 2004 V10 cars.

      Sorry, there are many worse ‘things’ to happen to F1 – first and foremost, the commercial rights holder selling it to a bunch of vulture capitalists to line his and his families pockets!

      1. Guybrush Threepwood
        6th January 2017, 16:20

        Cheap compared to what… Certainly not the previous iteration of engines.

      2. @optimaximal, furthermore, the claim that the current hybrid engines are the cause of the financial troubles in the sport doesn’t really ring true. Most of the teams which are in trouble now were already in trouble in the previous V8 era and would have gone under even without the change in engines given that the cost of aerodynamic research utterly swamps that of engine supplies – and whilst we had new engines come in back in 2014, it also came with a fairly substantial change in chassis regulations, and that cost far more than the change in engines.

        The Renault team, when it was still running at Lotus, made one of the largest losses in the history of the sport during the V8 era and was subject to threats of winding up orders long before those troubles came to a head in 2015. HRT went broke under the V8 regulations, Sauber has more or less been on life support since 2012 and Manor only survived up to now because, when it was still running as Marussia, Fomenko (the owner of Marussia Motors) allowed the team to write off about £200 million in debts that it owed his company during the V8 era.

        Guybrush Threepwood, actually, when you take into account inflationary pressures, the V8 engines were comparable in cost at the start of that engine cycle to what the current hybrids cost now – they only became cheaper towards the end of that development cycle when the FIA forced the manufacturers to sell the engines below cost price.

        Meanwhile, if you were to go back to the V10 era, the claimed cost of getting a manufacturer engine in that era was, inflation adjusted, more than the current hybrid engines. Back in 2002, Sauber allegedly had to pay the sum of £13 million a year to get a 2001 spec Ferrari V10, a sum that works out to about £19 million, or €22 million, today – more than the €16 million that Toto Wolff has said that Mercedes charges their customers today.

    2. They are expensive, it would help if teams were allowed to use a V8 engine if they cannot afford the new hybrid ones

  10. That’s so sad… Before the 2010 enlargement, I thought that Lotus (Caterham) might be the most successful of the newcomers, but it happened otherwise. USF1 didn’t even make it to the grid, HRT disappeared after 3, Caterham after 5 seasons. Virgin/Marussia/Manor scored points twice, and not only with luck, but it’s obvious that they became the most successful team of those, even though success here means only a points here and there and survival. These teams were lured into F1 with the promise of the budget cap, and they had to realize it will never happen, so they cannot hope even to become midfield teams. The prize money system is one thing, but a lot more needs to be changed in order to attract newcomers to enter the “market”, and let not really wealthy teams stay on the market. A budget cap is often criticised, and I can fully understand why certain teams don’t support it, but they have to accept that without the other teams, their presence in F1 is less meaningful, and if they want to have their fair share of the cake, the cake must be a bit smaller.

    I really hope that Manor escapes its fate somehow, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it won’t…

  11. So that’s why Wherlein went to Sauber…

    1. @zimkazimka : that’s exactly what i thought when I read the headlines…

      It doesn’t look good based on that alone…

  12. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    6th January 2017, 12:42

    Awful news. So much effort, so much progress (particularly last season) all remorselessly undermined by a sporting structure dominated by car manufacturer money and the fleeting desires of a demagogue. I don’t mind when manufacturer teams win week-in, week-out, this is the pinnacle of automotive technology, investments should be returned, but I do mind when the governor and the top-teams ally in utter indifference to the plights of the smaller teams. Not only shrinking audiences worldwide, but the repeated failure of midfield and backmarker teams is Bernie Ecclestone’s true legacy.

    Also, just because a team is spending less money and scoring fewer, or even no points, it doesn’t mean the team isn’t doing an excellent job. With the help of the Mercedes powerunit, Manor produced laptimes this year that would have been good enough for pole at many circuits the year before. Teams like Manor have given a foothold in F1 to drivers like Ricciardo, Bianchi, Alonso, Webber and the likely star that is Ocon. The persecution of backmarker teams and the utter disregard given to the livelihoods of their personnel is reprehensible.

    With Wehrlein going to Sauber, no drivers announced and their last minute deposition in the standings, this was on the cards, but the confirmation is still highly upsetting. Devastating. I just hope a buyer can be found…

    1. Totally agree, Bernie days are long gone, since CVC came on the scene the single objective has been milking the sport with harsh circuit fees that only authoritarian state funded events can swallow and a crazy distribution of limited cash.

      Let’s hope Liberty can correct this course, it doesn’t need equitable distribution just some degree of redistribution to give teams further down the grid a means of surviving and developing. Sponsorship funding is always going to be a challenge for those teams and the sport should recognise their importance to the total package, perhaps Liberty can assist with attracting in new Sponsors…or maybe a Franchise setup is the future…

  13. More posturing for negotiations, just like the BRDC. Manor will be on the grid in 2017. All of the stakeholders are lining up to force the hand of the majority shareholder Liberty Media for a better deal.

    1. Liberty haven’t completed the purchase yet.

      Also, actually appointing administrators isn’t ‘posturing’ – FRP are speaking for the team, meaning they’re appointed – spending has stopped, staff informed and placed in the creditor queue etc. Now starts the job of selling the business as a going concern. Remember Caterham making the last race in 2014 covered in stickers from pubs and local dry cleaners? Sure, that’ll work for the entire F1 season!

      I expect the higher-paid staff who aren’t owed anything will be leaving soon, assuming they hadn’t all handed their notice in after Brazil – the staff due wage packets will likely wait around until they’re told ‘nope, nothing for you’…

      Manor is done, unless someone buys it quickly, not hanging on until it’s cheap enough and the debt has been offloaded.

  14. i highly doubt new money distribution will suddenly allow manor to stay, or the other teams in the back field to gain a lot on the top teams. Sponsors aren’t lining up anymore, so the ones that do jump in can choose the best value for money or tie with the history of a team. Making it very hard for young teams.

    It’s happening in a lot race classes, not just f1, that teams can’t pay the bill and have to leave. F1 is very expensive and that means that you need to be a constructor, or a very wealthy guy to drive around within the 107% of the top. I think there are definitely things that can change on the money front, but you do need a solid foundation otherwise it doesn’t matter anyway.

    1. According to Autosport’s figures Manor’s budget from FOM this year was $47m. Sharing out the money equally could get teams up to about $90m. That’s enough to keep teams on the grid surely.

      1. Given Manor’s survival was essentially banking on the $10 million from 10th place to make them ‘worth investing in’, then yes, it almost certainly would.

    2. @thetick being pedantic, but all of the teams are constructors. I guess you meant ‘car manufacturer’. :)

      1. Very true, very true. That is what i mean

  15. With the continued loss of small independent teams like Manor and with Sauber and Force India continuing to struggle financially the future does not look good for F1. Silverstone and Monza may not remain on the calendar for much longer with rising hosting fees. We have already seen how quickly manufacturers will abandon the sport when it suits them (BMW, Toyota and Honda) and with nearly all the major manufacturers now setting up teams in Formula E for next season the end of the current concord agreement could see the exodus of the remaining manufacturers from formula 1 and ultimately its death.

    1. Sometimes you need to burn it down and start from scratch…

  16. This is just too sad.
    No wonder Brabham is looking to crowd funding to build a team in motorsport. I’d rather give my money to a team than pay TV.
    This is exactly why the big teams should have broken away all those years ago. F1 makes far too much money, and the small teams see none of it, it’s criminal!
    There should be a series where the money made goes mainly to the teams. Then manufacturers would be keen to take part, as there is a financial gain, not an endless money pit.

  17. I called this over a year ago:

    Manor was just driving around to collect the cash money from bernie. Now that they are 11th are are looking to get far less prize money (they still get some for the last year’s 10th place I think) they are looking to quit. Their first option is to sell the team to someone as that participation ticket to F1 is the only thing marussia has that is worth anything.

    But who would buy marussia when there are much better teams you can buy? Sauber is much better option if you have a lot of money and want to have a lot less. It would be surprising to hear that marussia’s 2017 car proposal is nothing more than a vague rough idea dreamed up by handful engineers on shoestring budget for example. Their 2017 would be hopelessly slow. That’s a certainty. But with the financial troubles there might not even be enough time to create a fast enough car to get inside the 107%. Which is a joke in itself considering how easy it has been for manor to collect that participation ribbon money by getting their pos car inside that 107% which is probably closer to 110% of the pole time anyway…

    Good riddance.

  18. This yeam is nothing, it was so obvious the investors would collect some money and then abandon the team ( ofcourse at the ecpense if the employers.) – changing the payment system to teams us pointless when greedy millionaires enter the sport for a quick buck and no intention of staying around. The only think im surprised about is that they stayed 2 years instead of one. If the current investors really cared (which they don’t), they would be putting money on the table now.

    1. No “investor” made money out of running Manor for the 2016 year and actually there were no investors. F1 teams don’t make money so this hypothesis is beyond wrong. Anyone who is only interested in making money will be crazy to try to do it as an F1 team owner.
      As they say “the best way for one to become a millionaire in motor-sport is by starting as a billionaire”.
      The guy who had the team this year bought it to save it and help built it up a little in the hope he will find investors because his personal fortune is not near enough to maintain an F1 team.
      Simply put he failed to get them. Maybe he was dreaming of being an F1 team principal by co-owning a team and getting it up the grid but the dream never came true for him since investors weren’t interested and buyers lost motivation after 10th place was lost.

      But the idea that anyone in this was there to make money or taking advantage of anything is just false because running an F1 team isn’t a way to make money.

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