Manor owner John Fitzpatrick has said that the points Sauber scored in the Brazilian Grand Prix basically killed off his team.
Manor had been searching for new investment for weeks but after a number of deals fell through the team was forced to enter administration.
Pascal Wehrlein scored a point for Manor at the Red Bull Ring, but the two points Felipe Nasr scored in his home race at Interlagos were enough to elevate Sauber to 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship – ahead of Manor.
The teams that finish in the top 10 are subject to significant prize bonuses, and for Manor slipping to 11th in the standings is reckoned to have cost them around $13 million, which for them is about one sixth of their entire budget for a year. Ouch.
Fitzpatrick said that any hopes they had of the team carrying on in 2017 became significantly slimmer as a result of being passed by Sauber.
“When I took over the team in 2015, the challenge was clear; it was imperative that the team finish in 10th place or better in 2016. For much of the season we were on track. But the dramatic race in Brazil ended our hopes of this result and ultimately brought into doubt the team’s ability to race in 2017.”
With all the eyes on the front of the grid and the battles between the top teams it’s easy to overlook the battles between teams towards the back of the grid. For Manor and Sauber the fight to not be last in the championship was almost literally a fight to stay in F1, in Manor’s case at the very least.
Although there is still a possibility of the team being on the grid in 2017 it would require things to move along very quickly.
Fitzpatrick claimed a deal had been close to completion but time ran out to get things finalised before the start of the year.
“Over much of the last year we have been in discussions with several investor groups, and had finally agreed terms of a sale to an Asian investment consortium in December,” he said.
“This would have provided the team with a strong platform for continued growth and development. Unfortunately time ran out before they could complete the transaction.”
It’s really not looking good, is it?