Category Archives: Manor Marussia

Formula One: VIDEO – Rossi discusses his future with Andretti

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During a seat fitting for his newly announced seat with the Andretti Autosport Indycar team,  Former Manor Grand Prix Team driver Alex Rossi took time out to share details on how the deal came together, what it feels like to be heading back to the United States and the excitement around participating in the 100th running of the Indy 500.

For full details on Rossi’s racing future with the #98 Andretti Autosport Indycar team click here

Formula One: Manor Racing confirm launch plans

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 17.50.44Manor Racing have taken to social media to confirm the new team name and logo (pictured)

The team, formally known as Manor Grand Prix, confirmed the full team launch along with updated livery will be revleaved on February 22nd on the 1st day of pre season testing.

 

This news follows a quiet winter for the team on social media with only news of the 2016 challenger having passed mandatory crash tests and the appointment of Nikolas Tombazis to the role of Chief Aerodynamicist being published.

Formula One: Where next for Graeme Lowdon?

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After battling to bring the Manor Marussia team to the F1 grid in 2015, Graeme Lowdon and John Booth officially terminated their agreements with the team on November 20th  , leaving Steven Fitzpatrick, Abdulla Boulsien, and Vincent Casey as the remaining registered directors of the team. At this time, it is not clear if the name Manor will leave the team with Graeme and John, but it is understood a name change was discussed in a recent strategy group review. It should also be noted a holding company Just Racing is registered alongside Manor Grand Prix Racing at the team headquarters in Banbury.

Both Graeme Lowdon and John Booth are highly respected figures in the F1 paddock, as is the racing pedigree of Manor. Until a recent interview for Sky Sports it was believed Lowdon and Booth came as a pair, and the partnership would be unlikely to be seen in F1 in the near future. However, during the interview suggestion was made that Graeme Lowdon may be joining another team on the grid in a new capacity. In addition, the launch of the ‘@realmanor’ twitter handle suggests the name may continue to be used in the future away from the current team.

With a future as part of the team formally know as Manor Marussia seemingly out of the question, this article will explore the possible new home on the 2016 grid for Graeme and the likelyhood of each.  It has been assumed that any new role would be for a UK based team, and that despite questionable management decisions made at Red Bull Racing in recent seasons, management remain supportive of the current structure. Given the changes with the Renault F1 team a move towards Enstone has also been disregarded at this time.

Williams F1 Team:

Despite finishing 3rd in the 2015 Constructors Championship the Williams F1 Team and drivers have voiced disappointment with the team performance, seemingly unable to extract that final element of performance required to mount a genuine challenge for the top step. This coupled with a number of blunders in pitstop procedures and rumours of senior management moving to new challenges with the Haas F1 Team, perhaps the pragmatic no nonsense racing approach adopted by Graeme Lowdon would sit well alongside the commercial savvy of Claire Williams.

Sahara Force India F1 Team:

Change in team branding and possibly ownership is expected in the near future, Graeme Lowdon and even the Manor brand could offer racing pedigree and a steady hand during a possibly lively management period.

Haas F1 Team:

Success in F1 comes through experience. Graeme Lowdon has highly relevant experience to any new team joining the sport, he knows how to run a team on a budget and optimise all resources available. He also has practical experience of working with Scuderia Ferrari and knows the Haas UK headquarters well.

Mclaren Honda:

Ron Dennis has publically stated the team will be making a series imminent management changes, it is possible the team may again look to split the role of Team Principle bringing in a head such as Graeme Lowdon could be bring a fresh perspective on how to approach racing, and reduce the burden of responsibility on Éric Boullier.

In conclusion, it would be possible to draw sound rationale for any of the afore mentioned teams to be keen on attracting Lowdon’s services. The question should also be which prospect would be appealing to him. Outside of motorsport Graeme Lowdon is a successful entrepreneur, co founding Nomad Digital, providers of Wifi and wireless systems in transportation networks. His success away from the F1 grid allows him a security that he does not ‘need’ the sport.  Either way it is highly unlikely any announcement will be made until the new year, but of the teams mentioned the most likely would seem to be either the Haas F1 Team in a bid to further strengthen the management structure or what could be a very exciting challenge with Force India.

That being said those fashion aware amongst you may have noticed since leaving the Manor Massuisa team Graeme elected to wear blue in most public appearances. Which team wears blue?

Formula One: Opinion – Formula Finances

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As teams prepare for the final qualifying session of the season, what started as murmurs around teams requesting advances on 2015 prize money from Formula One Management (FOM) is heading towards a deafening crescendo with Manor Marussia, Sahara Force India, and  the Sauber F1 team reportedly making requesting support.

The distribution model under which teams are allocated and receive prize funds was established a number of years ago. The model has not changed. The distribution model splits prize fund payments to the team through the season following the season in which the funding was earned. Once a paying position is achieved (i.e. higher than 10th place in the WCC) the team are assured payment for multiple seasons.  Payments are only made in season.

It is the payment structure teams appear to struggle with. Since requests have been lodged it should be assumed the teams in question have insufficient funding or credit rating in place to sustain team plans from December to March.  The Force India F1 Team found themselves in a similar situation in the lead up to the 2015 season, commenting that ‘close season’ is the most expensive period for a team and the only period when they as not getting paid through prize funds or commercial agreements.

Formula One Teams are companies in their own right; they are independent of Formula One. They are masters of their own destiny. They develop their own commercial agreements, agree to the terms of funding distribution models, and should be empowered to budget accordingly. Teams find themselves in a predicament of funding shortfalls in the ‘off season’ because they have made decisions to spend money they, in reality, did not have. A complaint Bernie Ecclestone has often publically voiced.

If a team is not capable of planning capital expenditure over a rolling 12 month period do they really deserve to represent the pinnacle of motorsport?

Perhaps it is cynical to view Formula One teams in this regard, to suggest they should operate as first and foremost as a business, perhaps it would diminish from the racing spirt, but would a more calculated approach to racing really be such a bad thing? To achieve a level of sustained security as to which teams are on the grid and what their position is within the sport may make investment a more attractive proposition.

Looking back to early part of 2015, the financial challenges faced by the Force India team were clear for all to see, the team failed to attend the majority of pre-season testing stating the car they would begin the season with was essentially the 2014 challenger updated to comply with 2015 safety regulations. This hybrid 2014/2015 car was the result of severe budget restrictions limiting payments to 3rd party suppliers. Working to a limited budget the team used this car for the first 8 races of the year, developing the 2015 challenger once prize funding and sponsorship revenue came back to the team. Through these first 8 races, the team amassed 31 points, an average of 3.8 points per race. Once the team were able to introduce the 2015 challenger they achieved a further 89 points over 10 races, (average 8.9 per race) the culmination of these 2 vehicles have left  Force India with 120 points heading into Abu Dhabi, with 5th place in the constructors championship assured.

But what if they had taken a different route? Had the team stuck with hybrid 2014/15 challenger for the entire season and for the sake of argument maintained their points scoring ratio of 3.8 per race they would be heading into Abu Dhabi with 70 points battling with Lotus and Toro Rosso for the 5th they have already secured. Had the introduced the non-budget constrained 2015 challenger from Melbourne and assuming a the afore mentioned average of 8.9 points per race they could have been looking at a total point’s tally of 160 points, but still be in 5th place with an outside chance of achieving 4th against Red Bull Racing.

This simplistic maths ignores the variable points tally other teams would have been able to achieve had Force India’s performances differed from those actually seen, but the point is in both scenarios the possible outcomes in terms of constructor championship performance  do not differ greatly if at all.

The very fact that Force India are again requesting  early payment of prize funds ahead of the 2016 season suggests the team went the wrong way, the desire to race, to compete, overtook the business rationale, perhaps this is what racing is all about, but is it sustainable? Force India over achieved through apparently over spending and are now reliant on external influences to assure 2016 plans.  This is not a criticism of any specific team, rather an observation of the culture of racing.

Across business the way in which a Formula One Pit Crew services a car in under 3 seconds is often cited as the epitome of teamwork, individuals working together towards a common goal. These lessons in teamwork have changed the business world. Perhaps the world of business can give something back to Formula One, and teach teams that a budget is something you work within, not something you take to Bernie when the numbers turn red.