Changes at Manor

New team owners in Formula 1 often like to make their mark on the teams that they have acquired. Old managements disappear and new people come in, but such changes are not always successful, because teams are integral units that have been built up over time and tempered by experience, Manor has had plenty of tough times and the core of the team is a solid unit. Thus the suggestion that Team Principal John Booth and Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon have resigned, and rumours that other team members may also be on their way, is worrying for the team. The fact that the new Haas F1 Team will be headquartered in Banbury – the same town as Manor, means that the likelihood is that jobs will not be hard to find.

Why this is happening is not clear, because the team members are being discreet and not talking, but it is fairly clear that they do not share the vision for the team for the future that is being put forward by the team owner Steven Fitzpatrick. This is obviously not something that is good for the team in the short-term because stability is such an important element. Forging a group of people takes time and removing “the glue” is a risky thing to do. It is not clear whether Fitzpatrick has any idea about how to replace the two men who made Manor happen and who kept the team alive after it was abandoned by previous owner Andrei Cheglakov, but he needs to find the right people. The problem is that team principals do not grow on trees.

On paper the logical thing for Manor to do be doing is hunkering down and sticking a good chassis on the front of a Mercedes engine. That should, in theory, take the team up to a sensible level of performance in 2016, with a sensible amount of prize money coming in the future.

54 thoughts on “Changes at Manor

  1. So sorry for fellow Yorkshireman and friend John as well as Graeme and the other team members who feel the need to leave. Such a sad twist in the already difficult Virgin/Marussia/Manor story after Maria, Jules and the team’s demise and resurrection.

    1. I think Ross Brawn is quite satisfied filling his time with fishing and oldtimers Darren. Why do people always want to see the “good old” back? Lets just hope someone solid takes over the mantle at Manor to keep the team going and growing

  2. On paper the Williams-Mercedes powertrain sounds like a competitive choice but for them, I think it is still going to be a huge challenge to keep up with STR (with whatever engine they will have), Haas-Ferrari and Sauber-Ferrari.

  3. This is really sad news.

    Just another symptom of everything that is wrong in F1. Big Bucks talk, talent is only something to be bought-in. One needs look no further than Chelsea FC.

  4. This is so sad!

    Just another symptom of everything that is wrong in F1. Talent is just something to be bought-in. Look no further than Chelsea FC. You are only as good as your last result, and Manor have not really had the luxury of having any to speak of

  5. Trying to flog the company for multiples of future earnings might be ok for Ferrari, but it appears the new owner(s) are trying to cut and run before Haas get up to speed (in terms of the teams payments). My first thought when I read this was “Monteverdi”; take a bunch of racers and replace them with “successful businessmen”…. The seeds of doubt are now sown.

  6. Interesting times. It’s interesting spending a little time following the comings and goings through the Manor and Fitzpatrick companies via Companies House. I suspect more interesting filings are to come but for now the apparent impending dissolution of Manor Racing Limited seems most prescient. I know you go digging there yourself so I’ll say no more here but I do sense that the money taps are being turned off.

    1. Loudon, Booth , and Gascoigne, much the same as anyone in an F1 team-type role, are only loyal to one thing…. their bank accounts. Being a big boy in F1 simply massages their ego for as long as they can make it do so. MG…? yes, he leaves a trail of success in his wake doesn’t he (not).

    1. Think Toto Wolff said that Booth and Lowdon are key figures for Mercedes-Manor. Should be rather Ecclestone/Red Bull “FOCA” :-(=O

  7. If Steven Fitzpatrick has decided to turn off the money taps, it’s a bit sad because I think that Manor would have made some progress moving up the grid with the Mercedes power unit.

    The team was never able to get many sponsors for the cars and the sponsorship dollars help defray the costs. Steven Fitzpatrick is probably wanting to sell the team and make a profit while he can.

    I wonder if Dietrich M. is thinking about buying the team and it’s current and upcoming contracts? He would get Mercedes power units. It’s a way for Dietrich M. and Red Bull to stay on the grid.

    Bernie doesn’t like teams that are just hanging on by a thread on the grid. He also didn’t like paying Mercedes the $50 million pounds for winning the second championship.

    Interesting to see how things play out.

    1. Given that the engine manufacturers only give leases of engines, instead of selling them, I would seriously doubt that the engine supply contract has no clause to cancell a contract in case of such a change of ownership Heidiwf1.

    2. I would expect any change in ownership and control of the team to trigger a clause in the engine supply contract requiring mutual agreement to assign the contract to the new owners, especially if there is any corporate restructuring involved.

      1. I think that if Bernie wants Red Bull to stay on the grid bad enough he find ways around the clauses in the power unit leases from Mercedes should the team be bought by Dietrich M. as a way to stay in Formula 1 and get the Mercedes power units.

        As much as people want to see Red Bull gone from Formula 1, it’s in the sport’s best interest to keep the team on the grid because I truly believe that if Red Bull leaves the sport that Dietrich M. will start his own racing series, be able to get quite a few of the Formula 1 drivers to participate, get many of the current F1 sponsors to make the switch, and F1 as we know it will be done.

        People forget that Bernie ultimately runs the show in F1. If he wants Red Bull to stay on the grid, he’ll find a way to make it happen.

        Daimler AG owns 5% of Aston Martin. Sahara Force India will become the Mercedes junior F1 team when ink is put on paper and Sahara Force India become Aston Martin Racing.

        This is being done so that AMG can build credibility on the road car side to compete with Ferrari and McLaren.

        1. I think you may not be seeing things in the present tense. If BE still ran the sport as he used to do there would be no problem. Therefore, if there is a problem…

          1. In other words, Bernie is now just a figure head and the manufacturers have complete control.

            The manufacturers’ money became a necessary evil when the tobacco money was banned. It is going to lead eventually to 1 or 2 private teams and Ferrari and Mercedes as the manufacturers. Ferrari and Mercedes will get the majority of the podiums with an occasional podium from someone else. It doesn’t sound real appealing.

            Bernie needs to stand down and let someone who is strong enough to wrestle control of the sport away from the manufacturers take over.

  8. I wonder this, last year at this time Mannor was dead in the water, they asked Bernie if they could skip the rest of the years races and got the okay. If they want to stop spending and/or focus on the 2016 car why not ask Bernie again? Of course this would be a case of Bernie paying for being considerate in 2014 again, fewer cars is a bad plan but would it guarantee these two cars show up for a 2016 season or end the teams life in 2015?
    Ending the role of the leaders might work if the team plans to miss some races this year, it gives the team time to find good replacements, in a clumsy way.

    1. They didn’t have to and still don’t have to ask Bernie. Any team can miss up to 3 races without failing on its obligations Blub. Its just not a great idea. Not to mind that they got money from Rossi for racing several of those races, money they would probably have to give back if they don’t turn up

  9. This is one of the amazing stories in F1…so:
    Mr Fitzpatrick goes to London around 2003 to work in a investment banking. It takes to him 5yrs to save 350k (a lot of money but surely not a massively successful investment banker but their standards).
    In 2009 OVO energy is launched with his (all) personal savings.
    In 2014 4.5% of the company is sold (to himself, to his Holding group, according to the Guardian?) for £2M to finance personal expenditure of Mr. F. (so whole company is valued about £45M), with 300k revenues and £9M liabilities….
    Then in 2015 Mr F. contributed £30M in personal finance to the Manor team. !!!!!

  10. Ecclestone´s twisted tongue doing it´s work again? Paving his buddies Helmut, Christian and Didi the way to Mercedes power in a way we already know of Briatore/Ligier-Renault???

    Franlky spoken: I`d like to see Red Bull vanish from Formula 1 (but not Toro Rosso!). They are not good for our sports anymore. And YES, I am from Austria….. 🙂

    And of course Ecclestone too, for same reasons. After that we should see a golden era of F1.

    Concerning the ongoing power battle 1982-like, and after the allegations made towards Ferrari, if I were Maranello I would offer Ferrari engines spec 2015 to Toro Rosso, plus the option of spec 2016 engines after mid-season. So, in return I wonder if Toro Rosso would vote against their engine supplier if it comes to ballot, and as Ecclestone/Red Bull need at least two teams on their side, that could become tragic….. 😉 Gossip is that Franz Tost already is furious about Marko because of the engine melee, so we will see…

  11. Booth and Lowdon seemed like real racers, who wanted to build a team the hard way: by learning to do everything themselves and taking great pride in that. Recent announcements about Manor using Merc PU’s and Williams gear boxes (I think) suggest that the new owners are more of the Force India (soon to be Moneypenny Racing Team – where after every crash the drivers are contractually obliged to say they are “shaken but not stirred”), or Haas, persuasion of buying technology to get in the game sooner (and thus earn more prize money).

    The former is the long term strategy, meaning that some way of financing the short term needs to be found. The latter is a short term strategy that means that at some point – to make it viable in the long term – there needs to be a transition from bought technology to in-house development. Haas seems to have that long term goal (at least he professes to it), but FI doesn’t really.

    By the way, your reporting on FI’s imminent change in name and possibly ownership is just top notch, Joe. Really impressive.

    1. Well, Booth and Lowdon both seem like canny operators — they wouldn’t have got through decades in lower formulae and six years in the Piranha Club (to say nothing of the Lazarus act over the winter) if they weren’t.

      So let’s hope that they have been studying Uncle Bernard’s formbook, and that this is a tactical move, rather than them doing an Adam Parr after having been undermined.

      And if not — then with Booth and Lowdon joining Brawn, Whitmarsh and Parr, the leadership group at Two Fingers GP keeps getting stronger and stronger.

      1. In F1 terms, Stephen Fitzpatrick isn’t rich. It is remarkable that he is in the F1 game and he must have delivered a good show to get the backing to become “owner” of Manor.

        Fitzpatrick rescued Manor, for which he deserves respect. But the rescue deal worked because he was delivering Booth and Lowdon to run the team. For the sake of employees and suppliers, Fitzpatrick needs to show a lot of charm or set up a killer deal if Manor is to progress.

  12. A real shame this – as a Williams fan I’ve seen Manor as a bit of a second team – one also run by a couple of real racers who’ve come up through the junior categories. The plucky underdog against the big corporations.

  13. Why does it feel like after all this has played out, Red Bull will have a Mercedes power unit in the back of their car?

    1. they wont. even such fantastic scenario wont land RBR Merc power. You might end up with even 3 – THREE RBR teams with no power

      1. I meant in the future. If Red Bull and Bernie can force Manor out of F1 that will leave a spare Mercedes contract, Toto’s last defence was that they had no more engines to give and so Red Bull had to go looking elsewhere. If Manor leave it allows Red Bull to go after a Mercedes engine even harder than before. They very nearly persuaded the Mercedes board it would be a good idea last time. Imagine what a concerted effort over an entire season would do? Toto would eventually be over ruled. Then, if Red Bull did start to beat the factory team, the Mercedes board may very well decide to make Red Bull their factory team and pull out as a constructor, saving the operational cost of a whole F1 team while still winning titles.

  14. I’d love to see Martin Whitmarsh return from whatever rock Mclaren have him buried beneath and “do a Brawn” with the Manor team, however I suspect that the financial and technical situation that he’d inherit would be somewhat different than the one that Ross stepped into…. Pity.

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