There was worrying – yet still not officially confirmed – news from the Manor F1 team that its figureheads, John Booth and Graeme Lowdon, had both tendered their resignation after a dispute with the team’s new owners.
Their resignation is expected to trigger a flurry of departures of other key management and staff within the team, casting a worrying shadow on the backmarker outfit just when it seemed to be turning a corner after confirming a supply of Mercedes power units for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
Quite why this is happening is not known, and very little is being said on the record by anyone within the team. Booth and Lowdon were both refusing to comment to the media during last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
What is seemingly clear is that neither Booth nor Lowdon – respectively the Founder / Team Principal and President / Sporting Director of the Manor Motorsport group, which was established in 1990 – do not share the same vision for the team’s future held by the team’s new owner, the energy magnate Steven Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick was the team’s saviour at the eleventh hour during the 2014-15 off-season, rescuing the team from administration and appointing former supermarket executive Justin King as the team’s Chairman.
Booth and Lowdon both remained at the helm, gaining dispensation to run last year’s MR03 car with a 2014-spec Ferrari engine for the season. The cars have been mired at the back of the grid, but the team has managed to survive and keep hundreds of staff employed.
What exactly this means for the team is not yet known, and a change of leadership will create a significant disruption that a team in the midst of a lengthy rebuilding process does not need.
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