The Manor F1 Team – formerly Marussia – has moved one step closer to fulfilling its ambitions of being on the 2015 Formula 1 grid after its creditors agreed to bring the company out of administration and place it into a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) to restructure its debts.
The backmarker outfit – which ran under Virgin Racing (2010-2011) and Marussia (2012-2014) guises – was put into administration towards the end of the 2014 season, missing the final three races of the year with almost $100 million owed to creditors.
The team’s management – led by John Booth and Graeme Lowdon – had hoped to get the outfit back on the 2015 grid, but it was reliant on the team being able to exit its administration state and secure the unanimous backing of the six Strategy Group teams to use an updated version of its 2014 car, having lost the entire off-season being able to develop a car fully compliant with the 2015 technical regulations.
The hopes of a waiver from its fellow F1 teams was dealt an immediate blow when Force India voted against a proposal to allow it to run a modified version of its 2014 car, the MR03.
With the team having already put down its deposit to race in the 2015 season and keep its entry theoretically alive, the FIA agreed to extend the entry list window to give the team as much time as possible for it to make the grid.
The team had further good news overnight, with Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene (pictured right) announcing that he would allow the team the use of 2014-spec Ferrari V6 engines, although the Italian added that a contract was still to be formally signed.
In any respects, the Manor team still has a massive mountain to climb if it wants to be in with a chance of getting on the grid by April.
Most of the team’s assets – including its Banbury factory – were snapped up by the aspirant Haas F1 Team at auction, and the outfit has little in the way of staff and manufacturing capabilities to ready its cars in less than the two months remaining.
There has been much incorrect reporting that the team needs to be in Melbourne for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in less than four weeks’ time, but this is not the case.
Under the commercial rules, each team can miss up to three Grands Prix a season, meaning that the Manor F1 Team would have to appear no later than the Bahrain Grand Prix in April to avoid forfeiture of both its entry and – perhaps more crucially – the prizemoney it will earn courtesy of finishing ninth in last year’s Constructors’ Championship standings thanks to Jules Bianchi’s ninth placed finish at the Monaco Grand Prix.
While the team can probably recruit staff pretty quickly, it may struggle to forge deals with manufacturing suppliers, some of whom might still be unsecured creditors of the team and who won’t want to be burned again.
It will be the team’s biggest race in its history, and against its worst enemy: time.
Images via Eurosport and XPB Images