Little time to save Manor as parent company enters administration

2017 F1 season

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Manor face a “very limited window of opportunity” to keep their place on the 2017 F1 grid as the team’s financial situation worsened two months ahead of the new season.

That’s the view of a representative of FRP Advisory, the firm which has taken over administration of the team’s parent company Just Racing Services Ltd. The development has come in spite of Manor ending the 2016 season as points-scorers. The team requested a payment advance from Formula One Management last November.

FRP was previously appointed administrators for the team at the end of 2014, when current owner Stephen Fitzpatrick took over.

Manor entered the 2015 championship using its 2014 hardware and was well off the pace. However it enjoyed a much more competitive showing last season with a new chassis and Mercedes power unit.

“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,” said joint administrator Geoff Rowley, “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 team’s dwindling chances of competing in 2016 rest on a buyer being found within a short amount of time.

“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,” said Rowley.

“No redundancies have been made 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.”

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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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61 comments on “Little time to save Manor as parent company enters administration”

  1. I hate this. I absolutely hate this.

    The whole point of the 2015 rescue was that Stephen Fitzpatrick wouldn’t need further investment to get the team to 2020 (when it finishes repaying the creditors from that stint in administration). That was why it was allowed to not go bust – an unprecedented event for a F1 team. So why, two years into a five-year commitment, has he bailed? And after the New Year? At least the previous owners were polite enough (not that anyone, including me, described it as such at the time) to bail in mid-October, which gave chance for a meaningful rescue by any interested buyer. (And that was close. I vividly recall having a bid on a Marussia laptop and getting the email 5 days and 6 hours prior to the end that the auction was cancelled. Nearly woke up the neighbours celebrating the loss of that bidding war…)

    It’s not even as if the Column 2 funding is gone; that would only have gone if 2017 had also resulted in a non-top-10 position. No word of any lost funding, barring Rio Haryanto’s, and Esteban Ocon’s presence would surely have been worth an engine discount at minimum. There’s no shortage of pay drivers on the market for 2017 that are Superlicence-eligible. So funding should not be an excuse.

    As it stands, only the two parties who did due diligence or someone willing to do a Paul Stoddart and buy a team based on someone else’s due diligence have any chance of getting it done. I’m hoping that one of the two is Graeme Lowdon’s outfit because he might get something done and is a known quantity – I’m not sure Ron Dennis (who I’m almost certain would have done the other due diligence as it’s simply not his style to not investigate that thoroughly) and his group are likely to be available any more because Ron tends towards caution in his business transactions. Not knowing what the other two potential buyers I’d heard about are like, I am unsure about whether they’d still be interested in an administrationed outfit.

    I recall saying on a Facebook conversation last time around that if I’d had a spare £55 m to spend and some way of maintaining the purchase, I’d have bought Marussia quite happily. I still think that, due to its low cost base and extremely good optimisation skills, it’s one of the few teams capable of turning a profit in this broken series. Probably I wouldn’t have the £55 m in 2020 either (given that, like most readers, I’m not even at the first £1 m yet!) but this much I know: I still don’t have the £55 m and really, really wish I did, just so Manor could finally get some much-deserved stability back.

    Manor, the young team deserves better than this morning. Its staff deserve better. We, the fans, deserve better. I want to say F1 deserves better, but…

    1. Yep. Well said.

      1. Another F1 Tragedy.

        Very well presented @alianora-la-canta.

        We start a brand new season in sombre vein.

    2. sunny stivala
      7th January 2017, 6:28

      “little time to save Manor” There is no time at all left to save Manor, Manor is finished. They did not do any work on this year’s car at all, and there is no time to prepare a car to the new regulations, What happened last year, being given permission to use a year old chassis with current front wing is not possible this year. At least this year the last points finisher is guarantied some money by finishing last.

    3. yes it’s sad yet they are a poorly run and organized operation. in the business world these fail every day.

    4. If you had thrown 55million at an f1 team you will be crying the loss of your 55million.
      The only way that anyone reasonable will throw 55 million at an F1 team is if he at least had a few hundreds of them.

  2. Let Bernies daughters come in as paydrivers

  3. Seems yet again, F1 is about to devour one of it’s own.
    A small team thriving in F1 is like a swimmer going up a waterfall, impossible with the current arrangement

    1. Pun intended?
      But yes, its sad.

  4. Its strange the parent company of Manor F1 is in administration, not the actual F1 team.

    Could someone come along (*cough* Ron Dennis) and buy just the F1 team without buying the parent company?

    1. @boli I think if you look into it, all of the F1 teams run with one entity holding the entry and another running the team, which collects the prize money but also acrues the debt – this prevents Bernie taking the entry away if the team goes bankrupt, as the legal entity holding the series entry is technically fine and, to be honest, is actually what the buyer of the ‘team’ wants out of any deal made.

      I bet if you look into it, even the manufacturer teams/Red Bull are set up this way, with the financially insulated parent companies holding the entries*, which they then ‘lease’ it to the racing team.

      * – fact byte : I believe who owns the entry decides the teams ‘nationality’ – remember when RBR first won in ’09 and they played the British national anthem because someone didn’t realise Red Bull is an Austrian company?

      1. The rules of engagement in F1 are such that the team company itself going into administration immediately voids a F1 team’s entry into the series, any and all funds it may hope to earn from FOM, and any good standing its owners and managers might have with the FIA. If the parent company goes into administration but the licence-holding one remains intact, then it is treated as if nothing happened to the team – provided said team meets its racing obligations (something administration can and frequently does preclude, subject to administrator decisions).

        All teams have an operating company for this reason among others.

        Neither the nationality of the racing company nor its operating parent is relevant to the national anthem. That’s supposed to be down to what nationality is put on the racing entry at the end of the previous season. This does not mean that, in the enthusiasm of the post-victory haze, the anthem-players always remember to take this into account. Jordan had the British national anthem played on its first victory despite having entered as Irish for all of the nine years it had then submitted an entry. Eddie Jordan may stop reminding Bernie about this blooper at some point next century.

    2. It’s a deliberate move for survival. Allows the licence to endure without the parent company. Makes a fresh start easier.

  5. Williams needing funding from a pay driver, Silverstone considering not renewing its contract due to the costs, and now Manor seemingly about to disappear off of the grid. This hasn’t been a good news week for F1.

    I hope F1s new owners are taking note of all this.

    1. Well said. This is the point. It’s feast or famine in F1 and that does not make for a sustainable series.

      It really ought to be the case that 20 teams show up at meetings and try to qualify. And there should be several circuits in each country competing to host an F1 round. Instead, F1 has been transformed into a cash machine for a lucky few and a thankless slog for the rest.

      1. Instead, F1 has been transformed into a cash machine for a lucky few and a thankless slog for the rest.

        Like the rest of the world?

        Also, I’d say this has been the case for a long time. The number of teams at the top has reduced slightly, and gap has widened, but it’s nothing new.

  6. What a sour start to the 2017 season. Would be such a shame to see the grid drop to 20 again… Just doesn’t seem enough for a sport that once had to have a qualifying session to qualify…

    1. And a pre-qualifying session!

      1. @alianora-la-canta thats what he was referringto as a qualy session to qualify

        1. @davidnotcoulthard *re-reads sentence* You are absolutely right. Judging from the timestamp, I probably should have stopped posting and gone to bed before that point…

    2. that was before CVC and Bernie the troll. I wonder if another of the group that bidding fort the Haas entry spot are still interested?

  7. Duncan Snowden
    6th January 2017, 14:20

    How many more teams have to go under before the Powers That Be recognise that there’s something wrong with this picture? It’s all very well Bernie saying that he doesn’t want teams that can’t compete or aren’t run properly, but almost half the grid is complaining about finances these days. Should Manor fail to make it, that’ll be all three teams who were invited to join, with promises of cost savings, back in 2009, gone in less than eight seasons. Not to mention Super Aguri and Toyota before them. Five teams in a decade, an average of one every two years. Does this look like a healthy situation?

    And who, looking at that record, is going to risk coming in to save or replace Manor? It’s not as if there’s a queue of major manufacturers knocking on the door.

    This can’t go on.

    1. Until every last vestige of CVC Capital Partners malign governance ( conducted so ably for them
      by one Bernard Charles Ecclestone ! ) disappears forever from Formula 1… WILL continue…
      … will go on !

      If ever the new owners of a great enterprise brought to ruin by the previous malfactors needed
      to start with a clean sheet of paper, then F1 in it’s currently moribund state desperately needs
      that fresh start. From the competing teams viewpoint, the whole financial structure is a wreck.

      We can only hope that some real intelligence at the top of the Liberty operation has the power
      and sheer guts to re-write the next chapter of F1. It will require some very tough decisions and
      sheer guts to put things right.

  8. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    6th January 2017, 15:18

    To play devil’s advocate, quite literally, I know exactly what Bernie Ecclestone would say I he read this comment thread. It would be something to the tune of…

    What ignorant fans, they know nothing of the realities of keeping the manufacturers engaged…

    …Fabi, where’s my daiquiri?…

    …he’s right, we don’t. However we do note the irony of his gleefully self-embellished totalitarianism versus his consistent failure to restrain the manufacturer teams from reinforcing their own supremacy. The £40 million championship promised to Tony Fernandes and Richard Branson never materialized, and instead came a formula conveniently suited to manufacturer targets in hybrid technology promotion. Next year Red Bull’s bright idea to open up the aerodynamic regulations could easily put another £15 million on the cost of a competitive F1 car.

    No sport bends so willingly to the will of its competitors than F1. Yes, organization with the lobbying power of manufacturer teams do in part require appeasement, but sometimes it is also good to call a lobbyist’s bluff. F1 called out Red Bull’s bluff last season during the engine saga, and look what happened: nothing. Liberty Media needs to quickly distance itself from Bernie’s legacy of privateer persecution and realise the simple fact that someone needs to finish last, and no manufacturer team is going to pay an eight digit sum for the pleasure. F1 needs its privateers to survive.

    1. @william-brierty Could you enlighten me, as the days of Fernandes and Branson were my F1 wilderness years, what you mean by 40m promise?

      1. @hahostolze Mosley promised new teams that if they signed, all teams would be forced to use a budget of ~£40 million, along with a supply of Cosworth engines and some other standard bits for the new entries – they signed up, the incumbent teams promptly said ‘no, we won’t be following any budget cap’ and as a result, they had to compete with basically birdseed and scratch.

        It essentially made a two-class Formula for 2010-2012, as the new teams were so under-powered and under-developed, they couldn’t even catch Toro Rosso or Williams, then the ‘Class A’ back markers.

  9. So this ends Max Mosley’s initiative to attract teams through cost reduction measures. Gone are HRT, Caterham and now Marussia a/k/a Manor. That last point earned by Sauber sealed their fate and now we know why Pascual Wehrlein chose non-Mercedes customer team Sauber for 2017. So is it a crisis in F1 or is there enough time to save the team?

    1. @photogcw

      …now we know why Pascual Wehrlein chose non-Mercedes customer team Sauber for 2017.

      I think ‘chose’ is the wrong term. ‘Placed’ is more likely…

    2. F1 has been in a crisis for several years now. If the team is to be saved, it will almost certainly be by one of the efforts that started some time ago.

  10. The team requested a payment advance from Formula One Management last November.

    So, was it received? If not, would it help at all?

    Gee, I wonder why some keep harping about the payment structure in F1. A budget cap would would most certainly not prove helpful to Manor or teams like them. They already are budget capped. A more fair and reasonable F1 prize money/revenue sharing scheme could be the difference between keeping teams like Manor in F1, or not. One would think that the owners/managers of F1 would figure out someday that keeping teams, great and small, in F1 is to their advantage.

    What a shame. Would love to see the unlikely happen and have someone come in and rescue the team. A buyer would be nice as a huge sponsor coming in under these circumstances seems improbable.

    1. OK, just realized that Manor lost 10th place after the payment advance request was made. Still does not change the need for a more fair and equitable distribution of prize money/revenue in F1.

    2. @bullmello

      A budget cap would would most certainly not prove helpful to Manor or teams like them. They already are budget capped.

      The budget cap works more as a playing field leveller, as the big teams with unlimited budgets can’t out-develop the smaller teams.

      If every team had a limited spend of £50 million, you wouldn’t find Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren turning up at every race with new parts developed specifically for each track, which in theory will allow others a chance – remember when Force India grabbed pole (and subsequently second place in the race) at Spa in ’09 because their car had little to no down-force?

  11. on a positive note: does this mean RB could get a Merc engine after all :D

    maybe a little too early to say farewell to Manor as someone could pick this up

  12. Mercedes just lost customer team! 1 available now.

    1. Now is your chance McLaren:)

  13. I know it’s not the strong team Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez are dreaming of, but they both could secure a drive themselves easily with that kind of backing they have, and Manor could survive another day. I’m afraid it’s not that easy…

    1. Maldonado’s backing does not exist anymore, given as PDVSA have bigger things to worry about, Venezuela being in the state that it is currently in. Gutierrez’ backing is also rumoured to suffer a bit if his Ferrari connection is severed.

  14. Its almost at the point where its not worth watching so few cars.
    F1 is becoming a joke.

    1. Yes, ”…worth watching…” is a very valid point. In many countries F1 is tucked away behind a pay wall earning heaps more non-performance money for some teams than others. When I was looking at the payout system for the 2015 season I noticed Marussia (the team that became Manor Racing) were excluded from the payout system that paid all the other teams and simply got a special payment of $10M, which is less than 1% of the TV rights money received for F1. That is an inadequate amount of finance for a whole season of F1.
      I think Liberty have a lot of work to do.

  15. Lost Pascal, Sauber got the lifeline instead. Hey get Jordan King’s papa to buy the team on sales. He never really purchased into the team. Someday the team was going to collapse since not even an wealthy enthusiast can bear an whole f1 team.

    1. @peartree

      Lost Pascal, Sauber got the lifeline instead.

      What lifeline has he delivered Sauber? I can’t imagine Mercedes is paying a lot to place him there and it’s not like they can offer an engine discount?

      Maybe they’re suggesting rekindling the Sauber Mercedes partnership from 2018 or beyond, but this year it seems like they realised Manor was doomed so made sure that he landed somewhere that wasn’t a test role – I guess he’s their insurance plan in case HAM-BOT doesn’t work out and they can’t afford him to be race rusty.

      1. @optimaximal I don’t know what part you didn’t get. I’m sure Toto and Pascal knew the owner (Irish guy I0m too lazy to name) was running out of patience, Justin King never really put money on the team so there was a possibility the team was never going to race in 2017, but obviously losing Pascal is a major financial blow and I do think Sauber signed Pascal for what Merc can offer Sauber whether that’s sponsors or perhaps a PU 2018 deal, that is to be known. Why not B-team Sauber?

  16. If I was a Manor employee back in 2013 I wouldn’t have stayed. I don’t care for the team, I do care for all the people who don’t have a couple of million in the bank whose families possibly depend on these jobs back in the UK. The team has always looked unstable and counting on that final point and that money is a lame excuse if you ask me. The investors don’t deserve these people their hard work if they cannot even come up with a stable plan that goes beyond one season.

    1. This team understands better what competing in F1 should be about than Sauber, I care for the team as much as I care about the people.

      1. That’s a ridiculous thing to say. Monisha aside, Sauber lives and breathes F1 and has done for over two decades, taking with them people all that time.

        1. @hahostolze I dunno, Peter left mid-year, meaning the management at Sauber are now just another international conglomerate of investors fronted by a woman who seemed at one point to struggle with the concept of 2 seats and 3-4 drivers.

          The mechanics are all in the same boat, regardless of the team…

        2. I’d give Monisha more credit than that. Sauber have more overhead than a team like Manor and are in a similar situation. She’s done a tremendous job of keeping the team afloat regardless of what you think of the driver situation at the start of 2016 or their backwards slide. It probably wouldn’t still be on the grid if it weren’t for her and Peter Sauber has said as much.

    2. @xtwl

      The team has always looked unstable and counting on that final point and that money is a lame excuse if you ask me.

      But surely that’s been what F1 has been like for years? Surely it was even worse before the points reached to 10th place? Granted, that was at a time when external sponsorship and financial credit were both plentiful, so maybe it’s all a sign of the credit crunch *still* biting into F1 as everyone is now dependent on rich stockbrokers with loads of money in far away lands propping them up.

  17. Since the vaporware known as USF1 appeared in 2010 I always thought the F1 entry process was critically flawed. How can you accept a new team and then give them 8-10 months to build a car? Granted you’re employing professionals but you could barely field a competitive touring car in that amount of time and that car is already built. Whoever was involved in granting these teams entry into F1 really had no idea what they were doing. Most of the teams were broke right out of the gate, the only semi-well funded one (Lotus/Caterham) eventually failed as well.

    Bottom line, the 3 (4) teams that entered in 2010 should have at least been given 18 months to enter F1 (2011 season) and in my opinion should have never been allowed to enter in the first place considering their lack of resources and facilities. Its one thing to run a spec F3 chassis, its another thing to build your own car.

    It looks like they’ve learned their lesson with Haas’s entry.

    As a final note, I don’t see why everyone wants more cars on the grid. I think 24 is probably a good number but if 8 cars are perennial backmarkers and 2-4 cars are bankrupt every other year then whats the point? I’d rather see 6-8 cars fight for a win than 2 cars at the front and 14 in the back (8 in the midfield). I think most people would much prefer quality of quantity in F1.

    1. Just for clarification, I agree that F1 is too expensive for privateer teams and it needs to figure out how to let those teams be sustainable. However if you think of a simple business, if you don’t have any income from goods or services, how can you have any money to pay your employees, do R&D, or play (race at a track). It’s a pretty simple concept, you need money to use money. Williams and to a lesser extent Sauber have learned this by farming out their engineering resources on other projects, now other privateer teams should do the same.

    2. Two things. First of all, the idea that a small field, ie quality over quantity, would persist is a hypothesis, an idea that has only ever proven itself in a very limited amount of seasons.
      Secondly, an F1 grid with less than 20 cars feels sparse no matter what angle you’re coming from. Especially in the days of the significant margin, I would much rather watch two Manors fighting each other all race long than the perennial processions we witnessed in 2014 and 2015 (or 2011 and 2013). If F1 is to be the biggest league in motorsport, having that few cars is an immediate disqualifier to me.

      1. I agree with 20 being the minimum, I think my comment was misconstrued to sounding like I only wanted 8 cars. My main point is I’d rather have 12 competitive cars with 8 back markers than 28 with 16 cars being 8 laps down by the end of the race.

      2. First of all, the idea that a small field, ie quality over quantity, would persist is a hypothesis, an idea that has only ever proven itself in a very limited amount of seasons.

        @hahostolze You mean like in prototype racing for the past 10 years? It can work fine if the stage is set properly.

    3. The usual process allows teams to do as much preparation as they wish prior to entering, and to delay 12 months (with a fee payable – not sure what it is now, but it was $12 million back in the mid-2000s) if they decide their initially-declared date is too early. Haas used the delay mechanism to good effect, but it had the money to do so.

      Part of the reason the new teams didn’t do so well was because there was no option given to them (another part being that none of them could have afforded it had it existed, given the cited amount was just under a third of the annual budgets they were told to budget for…). This is because the FIA needed as many new teams as possible to cover for potentially losing most/all of the established teams to a threatened breakaway series. It was acting as if it might have to replace 10 teams for the 2010 season (at one point shortly after the deadline for the “2010 new teams”, it was looking like 8 of them really would leave at the end of 2009, and for other reasons 2 eventually did). The option to delay until 2011 wasn’t granted because had all the candidates taken it, there might not have been an F1 in 2011 for them to join – which the FIA neither wanted to happen nor wanted to advertise.

      The FIA was also expecting to prevail with the $40 m annual cost (for those wanting that option), which is why every new team was told to budget accordingly. Only Virgin/Marussia and Lotus/Caterham were consistently able to raise that amount across a number of seasons, of the three we can reasonably say that for (Hispania was on borrowed time throughout because Colin Kolles was able to get only a limited sponsorship for the team – though it was more than original owner Adrian Campos managed). USF1 might have been able to get the money, but its problem was spending in a managed manner, it seemed. In fact, it suited them that underfunded outfits were the main bulk of the applicants – the more of them, the less power the established teams had in a post-breakaway environment.

      I should probably point out that Virgin’s CFD-only exercise was to save costs. They weren’t expecting to set the track alight in Year 1 (though I think they expected to have a correctly-sized fuel tank!) USF1’s base decision was more difficult to explain – they seemed to think that time management, rather than money management, was their main problem. Hispania just didn’t get much money until Colin Kolles brought some with him.

  18. It would be a clever buy for Haas to grab another entry “on behalf of” running another prancing horse team…

    1. It would make more sense to me that Mercedes should buy/subsidize/support Manor to keep them going since they are a Mercedes engine customer. Probably hard to get corporate to agree on something like that though.

      Interesting remarks by Haas a while back basically admitting a buyout may have made more sense financially than a fresh F1 entry. Any takers to get into F1 now? Here is your chance!

      1. @bullmello

        Probably hard to get corporate to agree on something like that though.

        I honestly think that may have happened had they not placed Ocon at Force India and Wehrlein on the shortlist for the Mercedes seat – were they seat blocked, they’d have subsidised the team just to keep their two juniors race ready.

  19. I might be wrong but i think the Rosberg Situation has taught us that top teams need their own torro rosso.

    So Alfa and Smart?

  20. Well… That is funny. It was only ever gonna work like that, team was looking forward to some awesome prize money… And let’s be honest team at the back wont attract 40-80 milion sponsorhip bucks..

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