Formula 1 will have just 20 cars on the grid this season after administrators attempting to find a buyer for the Manor Formula 1 team said that time has run out and the squad will now close for good.
Just Racing Services Ltd, the company that operated the team that was owned by energy businessman Sean Fitzpatrick, went into administration earlier this month after Manor finished 11th the 2016 world championship.
Manor’s workforce of 212 was sent home from work today, having been paid up to the end of January, after FRP Advisory, the administrators searching for a buyer, announced that the team would cease trading. All but a few staff members are expected to be made redundant by the end of the month.
The prize money they were due to receive during 2017 will now be shared among the remaining 10 F1 teams, adding a million or so more to the coffers of each. The failure to retain 10th place in the championship that they held from the Austrian GP in July until Felipe Nasr broke their hearts with a run to 9th in Brazil ultimately led to their downfall.
Manor Grand Prix Racing, the entity that owns the team’s rights to enter F1 and which goes back to the John Booth and Graeme Lowdon era, is not in administration.
An official statement issued by FRP Advisory today said: “During recent months, the senior management team have worked tirelessly to bring new investment to the team to secure its long-term future, but regrettably were unable to do so within the time available and were left with no alternative but to place JRSL into administration to protect the best interests of the underlying businesses and in order to continue a search for a buyer.
“Since their appointment earlier this month the joint administrators at FRP Advisory have continued to work, with the support of senior management, to try and secure new investment into the business resulting in negotiations with a number of interested parties. During that period funding was secured to ensure payment of all staff salaries until 31 January 2017.
“Regrettably since the appointment of administrators no investment has been secured in the limited time available to continue the group in its present form.
“With no sustainable operational or financial structure in place to maintain the group as a going concern, the joint administrators have now ceased trading JRSL and unfortunately have had to send all staff home from work today Friday 27 January.
“While all 212 staff have been paid up to Tuesday 31 January, all but a small handful of staff are expected be made redundant by the end of January.”
The British team, which joined the F1 grid as Virgin Racing alongside Caterham (then Lotus Racing) and HRT back in 2010, nearly collapsed during the off-season of 2014-2015 but was saved from closure by Fitzpatrick’s takeover at the start of the 2015 season. HRT and Caterham went to the wall too.
But after it missed out on around $15m in prize money when Sauber pipped it to tenth place in the 2016 constructors’ championship, Manor’s future heading intp 2017 did not look good.
The team had been on the look out for fresh investment for some time and Fitzpatrick told the media at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that it had “agreed terms” with an investor, but that deal failed to materialise.
With FRP Advisory ending its search for new owners for the Banbury-based team – known as Maurssia between 2012 and 2015 – F1 will be left with ten teams and a 20-car grid for the 2017 season.
Manor’s F1 record
As Virgin, 2010-2011:
As Marussia, 2012-2015:
2 points (Jules Bianchi, ninth place at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix)
As Manor, 2016:
1 point (Pascal Wehrlein, tenth place at the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix)
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