Tag Archives: Marussia

Fitzpatrick confirmed as main investor behind Manor revival

Manor Marussia F1 has confirmed that it intends to be at the Australian GP – and the team has formally named its new “principal investor” as Stephen Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick is the CEO and founder of UK company Ovo Energy. A longtime racing fan, he was a guest of Williams in Monaco last year, and considered an involvement with Formula E – a logical fit with his core business – before deciding to focus on F1. He also took a look at Caterham when the team was still a going concern last year. He is rumoured to have had around £40m to spend.

Former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King, father of GP2 racer Jordan, will be the interim chairman, while Graeme Lowdon is president and sporting director. John Booth remains team principal.

It’s understood that King is not an investor, but his presence clearly adds credibility to the organisation.

A Manor statement noted: “The team has been preparing the cars with which it will begin the 2015 season and which comply fully with the 2015 regulations. Later in the season it will introduce a new 2015 specification car as per the designs initiated last year.”

Will Stevens has already been announced, and the team says the driver line-up is “soon to be completed.”

“We’ve all worked incredibly hard to get the car ready for Melbourne and the season ahead,” said Fitzpatrick. “Our fans have given the team amazing support for many years and we want to restore Manor to the very best of racing in the future. I have a lifelong passion for Formula One and can’t wait for the season ahead, with Manor and the team.”

Lowdon said: “I want to thank all of the teams, the FIA, Formula One Management, our suppliers and staff and of course all of the fans for the support we’ve received over the past six months. It has been a challenging period for all of us but we’ve come through it and now we just want to go racing again. With formidable new business leadership in Stephen Fitzpatrick and the board presence of Justin King we are now in a great place ahead of the new season. This is a fantastic and very rewarding moment for all those involved with the team.”

“I know from the years I spent at Sainsbury’s that with the right people, the right values, and sheer hard work, you can turn any business around,” said King. “In Graeme and team principal John Booth we have all three and I’m fully confident that we can help Manor be competitive at the highest level of racing.”


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Lowdon says Manor still aiming for 2015 grid

Marussia/Manor GP CEO Graeme Lowdon has responded to suggestions from Force India’s Bob Fernley to the effect that the team did not provide any “substance” when asking to run its 2014 car this year – and has emphasised that the team is not giving up its hopes of being on the grid.

He said work is continuing on a 2015 car, and that confidentiality was the reason why no details of any new investors or owners had been revealed. He also denied that the team had been asked to provide a more detailed application to the Strategy Group.

It was announced a few days ago that the company would come out of administration on February 19, via a process known as a CVA.

“It has been a very good step to finally get the CVA process underway this week,” said Lowdon in a statement that was headlined ‘Manor F1 Team.’. “This is the first external sign that we have been able to make of all the hard work that has taken place privately over the past four months to get us to our current position.

“I was surprised to hear some of the comments made today, particularly regarding an application we were said to have made to yesterday’s meeting, which I can confirm was not the case. We did make a request on 17 December last year and we have been working since to satisfy the requirements subsequently communicated to us, specifically complying with all the Regulations, aside from the exempted articles.

“The comments also mentioned that issues of compliance were raised, that it was felt that our application lacked substance and contained no supporting documentation to reinforce the case for offering special dispensation. Again, we did not make any application to yesterday’s Strategy Group meeting and nor were we asked to.

“Instead, we are proceeding with our clear process regarding compliance and building our operation. We are doing everything possible to adhere to the process set out for us to return to the 2015 grid. This is a fantastic good news story for the whole sport and we just want to go racing.”

Meanwhile the statement added some details of how things have unfolded in recent weeks, and what the team believes will happen next. However, it made no mention of power unit/gearbox supplier Ferrari:

– On 17 December 2014, the team made a request to the Strategy Group to consider allowing it to use a 2014 race car, modified to meet certain 2015 regulations, for part of the 2015 season. Following analysis, the team highlighted that this would need some form of dispensation on only a small number of clauses in the Regulations.

– Subsequent to this application, the team was informed on 5 January 2015, that the Strategy Group felt that two teams – Marussia and Caterham – should be permitted to race a 2014 car in the 2015 championship. The letter stated that the Strategy Group agreed that the car should comply with all of the 2015 technical regulations, with the exception of four articles, those articles being Articles 3.7.9, 15.4.3, 15.4.4 and 16.2. The team can confirm that the modifications to its 2014 car would meet this stipulation.

– A change to the Regulations at this stage does require unanimous consent from all teams and following the initiation of the CVA process, the team is now actively engaged in achieving this. This process involves providing all relevant information to the teams to allow them to fully consider its request.

– As the press release from FRP Advisory of 4 February states, given the confidential nature of the negotiations underway, neither they nor the team are able to provide further details regarding the team’s new investors, however those investors have either met with or spoken to the key F1 bodies.

– The team has been busy preparing its 2014 cars such that they comply with the stipulations of the Strategy Group and at the same time it is pressing on with the development of its 2015 car to ensure it can supersede the 2014 car as soon as possible.

– The team has a significant number of staff already working on both its 2014 and 2015 cars. It also has the benefit of being able to recruit further staff very quickly from the rich pool of experienced and talented F1 personnel who were left unemployed following the closure of Marussia and Caterham and due to job cuts made by other teams in the sport.


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Marussia aiming for 2015 grid and “long-term viable solution”

Against the odds Marussia has taken the first steps towards being on the grid in 2015, and the team is set to come out of administration later this month.

It’s understood that confirmation that the team will receive its payment for finishing ninth in the World Championship has been the key factor.

The World Motor Sport Council is set to confirm that the team can use its 2014 chassis, after the FIA said last year that it would allow the two struggling teams to do so, despite rule changes.

One of the keys of course is that the team has a power unit – it currently owes over £16m to Ferrari. In the past ‘Bernie money’ has often been diverted straight to engine suppliers to cover the bills of struggling teams, but in this case there is obviously a legal process to be adhered to.

Administrator Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory said: “Since the appointment of administrators negotiations have taken place with a number of parties to try and secure a long term solution for the team.

“We can confirm that negotiations continue towards a longer term viable solution for the business and participation of a team in the 2015 season.

“It is envisaged that, prior to the commencement of the first race of the 2015 season, investment into the business will be made upon the Company exiting from administration via a Company Voluntary Arrangement (“CVA”), which is planned for 19 February 2015. A CVA is a restructuring process agreed with the Company’s creditors which allows for a turnaround of the business and the creation of a longer term viable solution for the team. Given the confidential nature of the negotiations underway we are unable to provide further details.

“The joint administrators would like on behalf of Marussia F1 Team to thank all involved with the team for their support during this process.”

The Banbury factory, which was not actually owned by the team, has been acquired by Haas, so Marussia is likely to use its original base.


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Marussia cars and equipment to be sold at two-day auction

Details of the auction of the Marussia F1 team’s assets have been posted online by the company behind it, CA Global Partners.

The relatively short lead time to the December 16-17th event, which is by order of the administrators, effectively means that any chance of saving the team as a going concern is gone, unless things happen very quickly. In past year the likes of Simtek, Prost and Arrows all came to a similar end.

All the team’s equipment is up for grabs, including the 2014 chassis – but without of course the power units and ancillaries, which are owned by Ferrari. Also in the sale is the model of the 2015 car.

It remains to be seen whether talks are still ongoing to save the team. Nine days ago CEO Graeme Lowdon told this writer: “There are various scenarios for the team, but to race it is very important to have a car ready for 2015, and that is what potential investors are interested in. They are interested in ensuring that work on the 2015 programme can be resumed quickly. Don’t count us out yet.”


More details can be found here: http://cal.cagp.com/event/marussia/


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Don’t count us out yet, says Marussia boss

Marussia/Manor F1’s Graeme Lowdon says that the team is still trying to race in 2015, despite not being able to get to Abu Dhabi.

The team made a huge effort to make the trip, and plans only fell through at the last minute on Wednesday. Despite the team not being present at the final race of the year Lowdon stressed the importance of resuming work on a 2015 programme if the commercial issues can be addressed.

“We got very close, very close to getting there – really close,” Lowdon told this writer. “Anyone who knows us will know that we only want to do things properly and it just couldn’t be done in the end. As a racing team you always want to race and that’s what we wanted to do in Abu Dhabi.

“There are various scenarios for the team, but to race it is very important to have a car ready for 2015, and that is what potential investors are interested in. They are interested in ensuring that work on the 2015 programme can be resumed quickly. Don’t count us out yet.”


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Marussia abandons last minute attempt to get to Abu Dhabi

Marussia’s last minute attempt to get to the Abu Dhabi GP appears to have failed due to the inevitable financial issues.

Sources in the Abu Dhabi paddock said that the freight would be coming today, and Williams and Caterham were told by FOM to remove equipment that they had stored in the neighbouring garage earmarked for Marussia.

In addition the Ferrari power unit guys assigned to the team were wearing their Marussia shirts today.

However this evening a team member Tweeted: “Once again it’s all over, we tried and failed,” adding the hashtag “Gutted.”

Max Chilton had been linked to the Caterham seat until it became apparent that Marussia was trying to make the trip. It remains to be seen whether he still has a chance of driving the green car. Will Stevens was in the team’s garage today, but he will require superlicence approval.

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Marussia on the way to Abu Dhabi

Marussia's garage, still empty as of 1400 Wednesday. Photo: AC

Marussia’s garage, still empty as of 1400 Wednesday. Photo: AC

The word in the Abu Dhabi paddock today is that against all odds the Marussia team is on its way and will join Caterham in the entry list for the final race of the season.

A senior F1 source told this writer that the team’s freight is on its way. An empty garage, located between Williams and Caterham, is awaiting the team, although it remains to be seen if the cars and equipment actually arrive – and if they do whether or not the teeam merely scrutineers them or intends to tackle a full race weekend.

A Ferrari source confirmed that the Anglo-Russian team’s power units – and the engineers who operate them – are in Abu Dhabi, should they be needed. However the Italian marque is owed a substantial sum, so it remains to seen how that situation is resolved.

There is always a question of whether Max Chilton will be driving, as he has been linked to the Caterham seat.

Watch this space….


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Administrators trying to save Marussia

Marussia now formally gone into administration as attempts continue to save the Banbury-based team.

Geoff Rowley and Geoff Carton-Kelly, partners of FRP Advisory LLP, have been appointed joint administrators of Manor Grand Prix, the company behind the team.

The team was always facing a deadline related to the Russian GP. Owner Andrey Cheglakov wanted to see a car on the grid at his home race, but had tired of underwriting the running costs of the team.

One key to the future is the question of whether the team still has a Ferrari contract. Sources told this writer in Sochi that that might no longer be the case.

Rowley explained: “Whilst the team has made significant progress during its relatively short period of operation, the highlight of which included securing two constructors championship points in the current F1 season, the position remains that operating a F1 team requires significant ongoing investment.

“With the existing shareholder unable to provide the required level of funding, 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 the Company into administration.

“With the Marussia F1 Team now in administration, the joint administrators have assessed that, given the current financial circumstances of the Group, it is not viable for the Marussia F1 Team to participate in the next race, the 2014 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, due to take place this weekend in Austin, Texas.”

The comment regarding the existing shareholder would seem to be a little ungracious given that sources have told this writer that Cheglakov has pumped £185m into the team.

Regarding the future, Rowley said: “The Company will continue to operate while the joint administrators assess the longer term viability of the Company in its present form.

“Following Austin, there are two further rounds of the 2014 championship remaining, in Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi, and the team’s participation in those races 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.

“No redundancies have been made following the Company’s entering into administration and all staff have been paid in full to the end of October. The ongoing staff position will however be dependent on whether the Company can secure new investment in the limited time available.

“We remain highly focused on engaging with interested parties.”


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Chilton hoping for continuity with Marussia

Max Chilton says he’d like to benefit from continuity by staying with Marussia for a second season in 2014.

His team mate Jules Bianchi has already been confirmed, but thus far there has been no firm word on Chilton’s future. Inevitably other drivers have been linked to the seat, but equally Chilton’s budget is of potential interest to other teams.

“There’s been lots of chat, but we’re not far off it,” Chilton told this writer. “We’re just trying to get the final details sorted. I try not to worry about all the other stuff you hear, because a lot of it is gossip. As long as we know what we’re up to and the team want me back.

“I’ve said that continuity is key. I learned that with Carlin [in GP2]. The car was quick but because the team was not 100% fused we didn’t have many results. The next year I suddenly had podiums, poles, wins and finished fourth from 20th the year before, in exactly the same car. I’d like to think that if I had another year back here it would be a stronger year.”

Chilton says that the new partnership with Ferrari can only be positive.

“I think it’s really good for the team. Ferrari have been around a seriously long time and they’ve got a lot of knowledge. That will help us. Also in the past when they do big rule changes it tends to stir it up, at least for the first four or five races or half a season. If we play our cards right and we get some good information from Ferrari you never know what will happen in Australia next year.”

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Marussia confirms Bianchi for 2014

Marussia has confirmed that Jules Bianchi will stay on for a futher season in 2014.

The news comes as no great surprise given that the team will use a Ferrari powertrain and gearbox package next year.

“Jules joined us at very short notice at the end of pre-season testing, with only two days of running under his belt,” said team boss John Booth. “He rose to the challenge of his debut season exceptionally well and since that time has clearly demonstrated his ability and potential. 2014 heralds a new era for the sport and continuity and consistency of line-up will be important in helping us to navigate the transition.

“We look forward to confirming our full race driver line-up later in the season. Until then we have an important job to do to ensure we retain our 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship and this is where our full focus will lie in the intervening period.”

“I couldn’t have wished for a more supportive environment in which to make my F1 debut and from the very beginning I have always felt completely at home with the team,” said Bianchi. “We started the season very well and while the challenge has increased as the season has developed, we have learned important lessons together that will place us in a much stronger position next year when there are a lot of changes for the sport and the Team to get used to.

“I am very excited to be part of the team as we all enter this new era of F1 and I look forward to achieving some rewarding performances together. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy for their continued support for my career.”

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