Jun.26 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Almost halfway through 2015, Manor may not be out of the woods yet.
At the end of the ‘Marussia’ chapter, the team was so close to collapse that its Banbury factory was sold to the new 2016 entrant, Haas.
At the eleventh hour, however, a saviour emerged in the form of Stephen Fitzpatrick, a young entrepreneur who heads the small but growing British energy company Ovo.
Reports early this year suggested he rescued Manor by pledging almost $50 million of his own money.
At the time, Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson threw out the old line that to make a small fortune in formula one, “You need to start with a large fortune”.
Bernie Ecclestone, however, isn’t sure Fitzpatrick actually fits the bill.
“I don’t think he’ll ever do that,” the F1 supremo told Sky recently, when asked about the reported personal fortune pledged by Fitzpatrick.
Ecclestone has admitted he regrets his handling of the Marussia collapse, reacting angrily early in 2015 when Manor turned up in Australia but did not race.
Told, however, that Britain’s 2014 ‘entrepreneur of the year’ Fitzpatrick is earning a reputation as an Ecclestone-style dealmaker, the F1 supremo replied quizzically: “Is he?
“He hasn’t been too successful at making money, because he doesn’t have enough to run the team properly,” said Ecclestone.
The 84-year-old has openly mused that Fitzpatrick only arrived at the paddock turnstiles because of the $50 million in official prize-money owing to the team in 2015.
Ecclestone confirmed: “I think he takes over things that have got some subsidy, which it (Manor) did, and he could just rely on that without putting any money in.
“I don’t blame him at all for not putting his money into formula one,” he added.
Indeed, Manor’s latest accounts show that the team is facing a cash shortfall and “wholly reliant” on funding from Fitzpatrick, according to a report in the Telegraph.
F1 business journalist Christian Sylt said Fitzpatrick has committed only to “enabling Manor to continue as a going concern for at least 12 months”.