The 2015 Formula 1 season is right around the corner and all the teams are gearing up and fine tuning their machines for the season opening Grand Prix at Australia. All the teams expect, Caterham and Marussia. This is because of the fact that these two teams are going belly up in a free fall straight out of F1. And with Formula 1 engulfed in a financial tussle, this has left these two teams fatally wounded, a chance of their survival looks all but impossible. But last week, it was revealed that there was a bit of glimmer for one of the teams, just a small hope, but a noteworthy one.
Marussia went for the Hail-Mary Pass
Recently Caterham’s administrators announced that they are going to sell whatever that is left of the team. But along with this, another piece of information came out from the galleries last week. It was that of Marussia, and their try to stage a comeback. The team, which is planning to enter the 2015 season with its original name of Manor Grand Prix Ltd, had applied for a slot and made a request to F1’s think-tank and decision makers.
The plan was to enter the first few races of the new season with a modified 2014 car and gradually introduce the new car later on, if possible. It was also said by the team that they would extensively work through-out the year to make a competitive car for 2016. But the outfit’s plan failed as, rival’s Force India vetoed their request, when a unanimous agreement between all the teams was required. Although Force India was not obligated to accept this, their official reason for the decline was that: they didn’t believe Marussia’s plan was concrete enough.
Was money the factor behind all this?
Although the plan is/was ambitious, Marussia, if they were given a chance, maybe could have pulled-off the impossible. And since F1 is struggling to find numbers these days, their re-admission would have been welcoming news for the fans. But of course, in the Force India’s veto, lot more than rivalry and documentation was on the play. Yes, even money was involved.
All the current F1 teams are set to get an equal piece of Marussia’s pie, meaning the prize money from last season, if Marussia-Manor fails to enter the first 3 races of this year. Though the exact figure is not known, all teams are going to get around 3 to 4 million pounds extra because of Marussia’s no show. And it takes about 100 million pounds to run a midfield team in F1 for a year.
So an injection of 4 million pounds (or 4% of the cost incurred) is worth killing for, let alone vetoing. Or at least when you are Force India, Sauber or Lotus. Deputy team boss of Force India Bob Fernley spoke to the media regarding the issues, and said: “Is money involved in it? Yes of course it is. And you would be stupid in Formula One not to think that.”
Though Fernley said it was not the most vital issue or problem, but he agreed it had enough weightage. And rightly so, one cannot be nonchalant or naïve enough to understand that in Formula 1, money speaks and warrants action. Then also, there are several other issues which Force India, and possibly the whole of F1’s Strategy Group, also questioned; the matter of the ownership. The team is currently under administration, but whilst presenting their “plan” for the 2015 season, it was never clear who the possible new owners and the new backers of the team are. Thus this might have also acted as a catalyst to the skepticism of the grid to accept their request.
Can last year’s prize money save Marussia?
Well, Force India has also suggested that the make-shift Marussia can just, throw a car and churn the money out, and scamper away with it. And that is because; it is required as per the rules of F1 that you need to participate in the new season to redeem your last season’s prize money. The amount of prize money the team earned last year is being speculated at around 26 to 34 million pounds. It is quite a lot considering it might be nearly half of the team’s running budget for this year.
Interestingly, in a sport where 1 to 1.2 billion pound worth of profit is reported every year, it is quite astonishing that teams are falling from the grid this quick. Although the debts which Marussia have generated in the last couple years are compiling, but the recent sale of their base at Banbury, United Kingdom, was made to pay-off that.
No factory, no workers and no new car, seriously they must be bluffing
Honestly speaking, Marussia have a tall order in hand, even if they have new financial backers, one cannot see them competing in F1 this year, at least in the first half of the season. They do not have any plan in place to make a new car, let alone make a competitive one. But since money is involved, they are trying to push it.
Currently, the team does not have a base, and most of their employees have moved on because of the crisis. Although, Manor-Racing themselves have a factory, but making F1 cars is not an overnight job, but there are indications that Ferrari, the team’s engine suppliers, will support them. Besides technically changing their 2014 car to adhere the regulations of 2015 one will be difficult, especially the front-end of vehicle.
But the question remains, should they be allowed to participate?
Morally it would seem like the F1 teams are once again ignoring and turning heads, when a team needs their help. But technically speaking, their entry request, as stated by sources, has many flaws. Also if the team can reveal their new backers, some parity and faith will be restored. Though the team has reserved its right to give out the name because they feel it might intimidate the new buyers. And with the team insisting that they are capable of successfully running the program, it may be a right choice to give them a go ahead.
The positivity of the whole situation for Marussia is that; they believe they can achieve what they are saying. As they are working on the new and the modified car, and they are willing to stay afloat no matter what. Also to boost is the fact that; the team will be able to employ many people, who have recently been booted form their respective F1 teams. And with the help of Ferrari, the new backers, and with a bit of team spirit, Marussia-Manor can once again join back the grid.
Besides this, Marussia last year scored their first points, but bad operating procedure meant they could not sustain till the end. However, if they give a strong plan, I think Formula 1 should reconsider their position and stand by one of their peers. Also, we the fans, who are the most important part of the whole scenario, need Marussia to survive and fight once again.