It looks as if the Formula One World Championship will be starting next season with one less team than it ended the last one with, as one of its most troubled teams has entered bankruptcy proceedings.
That team is Manor Racing, a back-marker entry that has struggled both on and off the track.
The entry first secured a spot on the grid when the FIA granted spots to three new teams: HRT, Lotus, and Manor. HRT and Lotus (subsequently renamed Caterham) disappeared in 2012 and 2014, respectively. And now Manor looks poised to join them as well.
The team has undergone a number of name changes over the past seven years. It initially secured backing from Virgin, then from Marussia, but both ultimately withdrew. Manor competed under its own name last season, and showed marginal improvements in performance.
But in six years on the grid, it has yet to land on the podium once, and has finished in the points only twice: with a ninth-place finish (by the late Jules Bianchi) at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, and a tenth-place (by Mercedes prodigy Pascal Wehrlein) in Austria last year.
A statement published on the team’s website indicates that it was in discussions with an Asian consortium that was interested in investing, but those negotiations have failed to bear fruit in time to keep the team in the black. So the holding company under which it operates – Just Racing Services Ltd. – was left with no choice but to enter bankruptcy proceedings.
If fresh investment can still be secured by its bankruptcy administrators, there’s a chance the team could still make it onto the grid in time for the season opener in Melbourne at the end of March. But if not, the field will be reduced back down to ten teams.