Marussia finished 10th in the Constructors’ World Championship last year and hoped that this year a new Ferrari engine would help to lift its performance into the midfield. There have been flashes of potential but thus far it has not proved to be the case and after the first three races of the year, Marussia and Caterham remain locked in a fight over 10th place. This has gone backwards and forwards with Marussia ahead after the first race, but then Caterham grabbing the advantage in Malaysia, only to lose it again in Bahrain.
Away from the circuits, however, things are happening with the news from Russia that the Marussia Motors company is shutting down by its owner Andrej Cheglakov as the management of the firm, led by Nikolai Fomenko, has failed to find the money needed push ahead with its plans to build supercars. It seems that Cheglakov has got bored of waiting and spending. This creates a problem for the Formula 1 team because its reason to exist has just disappeared. It could exist simply as a racing operation, but that would require a lot of money. The team has some cash from the Formula One group and from Max Chilton and there seems to be a deal with Ferrari that pays for Jules Bianchi, but beyond that sponsorship is thin. And it is hard to find when you are at the back of the grid.
The logical step forward from here would be for Cheglakov to find a suitable new owner. The racing team is a legal entity called Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd. This belongs to a holding company called Manor Holdco Ltd, which in turn was owned by a Luxembourg firm called Marussia Lux SA, a subsidiary of Marussia Motors. It seems that this structure has now been changed with Manor Holdco having been passed to a new company, registered in Ireland, called Marussia Communications Ltd. Thus it is no longer directly linked to Marussia Motors but is still under the ownership of Cheglakov. It seems that there are some people out there who are willing to buy the team but for the moment there are only rumours about who the new owner might be.
According to Bernie Ecclestone, the FIA is about to announce that there will be two new teams in 2015 (or 2016 more likely) and it is bizarre for either one to go on, given the scale of investment required to get even to the level of Marussia or Caterham. It would be wiser for the new owners to buy up smaller teams with infrastructure and people, rather than trying to do it all themselves. This depends largely on the price, but at the moment there is little real value in back of the grid teams so unless the owners want to write off their investments, it makes no sense to quit unless there really is no way to fund things, in which case any sale would simply be to avoid debts.
Gene Haas has plans to have Ferrari engines and to have Dallara build his chassis but he would be wiser perhaps to simply buy Marussia and let the people running the show get on with it.