A Dark Day for British Motorsport: Manor goes into Administration and Silverstone Consider Axing British GP

There’s bad news for both Manor Racing and Silverstone as the British team find themselves on the brink of collapse and the iconic circuit is considering withdrawing from the sport after 2019. Unsurprisingly, both problems are connected to how Formula One operates financially. 

Talks have broken down between Manor Racing and potential buyers and the team have officially gone into administration as a result. None of the team’s staff have been made redundant, but a buyer will need to be found before the season-opener in Melbourne. If the team do survive, they will find themselves on the back-foot again as their car won’t have gone through pre-season testing like the rest of the field.

manor_31807_hires

In a statement, co-administrator Geoff Rowley said,

“The team has made significant progress under its new ownership since the start of 2015, the highlight of which included securing a constructors’ championship point in the preceding F1 season, but the position remains that operating a F1 team requires significant ongoing investment.

During recent months, the senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment to the team to secure its long term future, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available.

Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place JRSL into administration.

– Geoff Rowley

Manor lost 10th place in the Constructors to Sauber at the penultimate round in Brazil and with it, prize money in the region of £10M. This administration occurs at a time in which Liberty Media are yet to complete their takeover. The new owners have talked about a fairer franchising system before so that a safety net is offered to teams.

Felipe Nasr (BRA), Sauber F1 Team. Suzuka Circuit.
Felipe Nasr (BRA), Sauber F1 Team.
Suzuka Circuit.

In other bad news, the British Racing Drivers Club, who own the Silverstone circuit are considering axing the British Grand Prix because of the lofty fees that circuits have to fork out to host a race. BRDC Chairman John Grant wrote,

“The board is considering whether we should give notice before the 2017 British GP (as required) of our intention to exercise the break clause in the contract at the end of 2019.

This is not a simple decision and we shall consider all the implications before coming to a conclusion by mid-year.

“We have to protect our club against the potentially ruinous risk of a couple of bad years. Without some change in the economic equation, the risk and return are out of kilter.”

– John Grant

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates with the fans after winning the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 10, 2016. Lewis Hamilton streaked away to comfortably win his home British Grand Prix on Sunday, with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg hanging on for a provisional second. Third was the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, but championship leader Rosberg -- suffering late gear-box trouble -- was under investigation over a radio communication that could spell further trouble for the German. / AFP / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team’s British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates with the fans after winning the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 10, 2016.
Lewis Hamilton streaked away to comfortably win his home British Grand Prix on Sunday, with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg hanging on for a provisional second. Third was the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, but championship leader Rosberg — suffering late gear-box trouble — was under investigation over a radio communication that could spell further trouble for the German.
/ AFP / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The conclusion drawn has to be that Formula One Management need to assess what they really want, a cash cow or a successful sport. There is a balance between, but the culture that previous majority stakeholders CVC have left has the sport leaning towards cash cow. It isn’t subtle, the intelligence of the fanbase won’t continue to be insulted and Liberty Media’s infiltration into FOM needs to happen sooner rather than later. Anything is better than the fat-cat status quo that Formula One is in at the moment.

One circuit that you can bet your bottom dollar won’t suffer the dilemma’s of Silverstone is the Circuit Paul Ricard because that circuit isn’t owned by a relatively modest club that does a great deal for grassroots motorsport, it’s owned by Bernie Ecclestone.