Still at the garbage compactor
The last 20 months have been horrible for Manor. In April 2014, their title sponsor Marussia was disbanded. Six months later, the team’s star driver Jules Bianchi suffered a fatal accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. Then, the team was placed under administration and its staff could not prepare a new car for the 2015 season in time.
It briefly seemed that the Banbury-based outfit was destined to follow in the footsteps of HRT and Caterham and disappear from Formula 1. One season later, there are more positive signs for the future of Manor, but there are also new huge challenges on the horizon to overcome.
To race or not to race
No team found the participation in the 2015 Formula 1 season more difficult, everyone know that. Manor was forced to deliver a b-spec of their 2014 car that could house Ferrari’s lousy 2014 engine (there was no time for a complete redesign around the 2015 Italian power unit), but comply with the 2015 front wing regulations. The hastily assembled challenger was painfully slow and no points in the 2015 season made Manor seem incapable of actually racing against the rest of the field.
They need stable financing and management and even then catching the midfield might still be years away.
Glimmers of hope?
The 2015 season was horrible on the track, but inside affairs started looking up for the British back-marker. Stephen Fitzpatrick, a local businessman, invested 45 million dollars in the outfit to get it out of administration and has committed to funding it for at least one more season. The team’s budget was boosted further by a 50-million-dollar prize money injection following from Marussia finishing ninth in the 2014 constructors’ standings.
The team’s survival in Formula 1 was not only down to Fitzpatrick’s money, but also to the efforts of President Graeme Lowdon and Team Principal John Booth. The two executives managed to reassemble the team after the 2014-2015 winter brake and even negotiate a technical partnership deal with Mercedes. The deal will see Manor race with Mercedes engines, but Lowdon and Booth will not be around to steer the team forward in 2016. They are both resigning, seemingly because of an internal conflict with Fitzpatrick.
Things are not looking up for Manor. They need stable financing and management and even then catching the midfield might still be years away.