Two weeks ago, Manor Racing relinquished its 10th place position in the Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship to Sauber when the Swiss team scored two points in Brazil. The slide down to 11th will possibly cost Manor $13.5 million in prize money and that’s a significant portion of the team’s budget.
Perhaps no surprise that the team are rumored to be on the market with a potential majority buyer in the wings. Manor CEO Thomas Mayer said:
"I can confirm that we are in discussions with a third party to acquire a majority shareholding in the team. "There isn't much more that I can say at the moment but these are advanced-stage discussions and I hope we will have some positive news very soon."
The team was saved from extinction by entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick when it was called Marrusia last year but now it seems the businessman would like to sell a majority stake but remain involved according to AUTOSPORT.
Manor represent two of only three seats left in 2017 as it has not announced the signing of any drivers yet and reports suggest that announcement may not come until the sale of the team is completed.
The team took the grid in 2016 armed with Mercedes power units but the chassis failed to deliver the results they were hoping for when juxtaposed with similar customer combinations such as Force India and Williams F1. The potential new owner has not been revealed but the small teams, like Sauber and Manor, who seek investment funds for cash infusions aren’t paying the dividends the investors would like. In many cases one could argue that buying a majority position in a team like Manor or Sauber is a loss-leader and pure marketing expense that doesn’t get a lot of TV time during races.
Manor enlisted the help of former McLaren man, Dave Ryan, this season and I believe the team have been doing much better with a pace that is more competitive. There is little doubt that their Mercedes shove in the back of the car could pay dividends but they need a competitive chassis and perhaps a strategic or technical partnership with Mercedes could be an interesting proposition for both given that the team have employed two Mercedes driver development youngsters in Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.
Sauber needed their two points in Brazil and they desperately need to finish in 10th place in order to reap the prize money reward but so does Manor. Without it, they will need a serious infusion of cash and that’s not easy to come by in F1 these days.