End of the road for Manor?

Just Racing ceased trading on Friday, effectively ending the Manor team. The staff were sent home and told they will be made redundant by the close of business on Tuesday after the payment of January salaries.

According to the BBC’s Andrew Benson: “It is not necessarily the end of Manor – a buyer could potentially still purchase the remnants of the team. But even if that were to happen, the move makes it much harder for Manor to make it to the start of the season in Australia on 26 March.”

My colleague Joe Saward who runs the excellent joeblogsf1 has been following the saga from its inception: “There have been many different stories circulating about what has been going on at Manor in recent months and there have been many different interpretations of the problems.

“It has been assumed (by me and others) that the key was money, but the truth seems to be that the stumbling blocks were more complicated than that. Firstly, the owners wanted to hold on to part of the team, secondly there were questions over indemnities relating to potential liabilities, notably the possibility of legal action from the Bianchi Family and thirdly, there was a massive hole in the 2017 budget, even before Manor was knocked back to 11th in the Constructors’ Championship by Sauber in Brazil.

“This is what I have been able to ascertain, although no-one wants to go on record about the different stories, so we must take them on that basis.”

Manor Racing in administration

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Very sad news.

The directors of Manor Racing have placed the team’s operating company, Just Racing Services Ltd, into administration. Geoff Rowley and Phil Armstrong, partners of FRP Advisory LLP have been appointed joint administrators.

The decision comes after several months of discussions with investors in an effort to secure the best future for the team: discussions that had recently progressed with a particular investor to the signing of heads of terms. Unfortunately, the investor was unable to advance a final agreement in a timescale that would have avoided impacting upon the team’s 2017 racing programme and the directors had no alternative but to place the team in administration.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, owner of Manor Racing since January 2015, said: “The decision to put the team into administration represents a disappointing end to a two-year journey for Manor.

“Over much of the last year we have been in discussions with several investor groups, and had finally agreed terms of a sale to an Asian investment consortium in December. This would have provided the team with a strong platform for continued growth and development. Unfortunately time ran out before they could complete the transaction.

“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.

“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. 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.

“I look back on 2016 with pride in what Manor accomplished in what was the most successful year in the team’s history. I would like to thank the team for their constant hard work, determination and passion. We made a huge amount of progress on and off track but ultimately it was not enough.”

2016 Season progress
(Bahrain Grand Prix) 2014 2015 2016
Delta to pole 4.125s 6.142s 3.313s
Delta to fastest lap 4.805s 5.448s 0.966s
Highest position during race 17th 16th 7th
Cars behind at finish None None Sauber, Force India, Renault
As a similar barometer, in Austria Manor Racing qualified 19th (’14), 19th (’15), 12th (’16) and of course raced to P10 in ‘16.

Qualifying
Five times into Q2 (Austria, Spa, Italy, Mexico, Abu Dhabi)
Number of times Manor Racing out-qualified one Sauber car in 2016: 13
Number of times Manor Racing out-qualified both Sauber cars in 2016: 9

Race starts
– WEH was 2nd best driver at gaining position on the first lap of every race having gained +35 positions in the first lap so far this season (an average of 1.94 per race). Only beaten by Alonso with +43 positions. Esteban was 5th on the list with +27 places gained (average of 3.38 per race)

Speed
Top of the speed traps 9 times in 2016 in Qualifying (using GPS data).

Reliability

Only three retirements from 42 starts in 2016 due to technical problems

Classified at the end of more races (32) than its main competitors Sauber (31), McLaren (31) and Haas (30).

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