The Manor Racing F1 team has been sold, according to a source within the team’s Banbury, England factory.
It is no secret that the team is not in great financial shape and that a sale has been brewing for some time. Back at the end of November, according to Motorsport.com’s Adam Cooper, team owner Stephen Fitzpatrick said, “We have agreed terms with an investor at the moment and we are still working through that and I can’t really talk more about the specifics.”
It appears that a sale is now complete (although not necessarily to the same person or group).
Fitzpatrick’s comments then suggested that he would still be involved with the team, even if he no longer owned a controlling share. That is not to be the case, according to the Manor source, who requested anonymity as they are not authorised to speak on behalf of the team.
— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) March 4, 2015
The team has been sold to an unknown consortium of investors, represented by Capital GF, in a deal brokered by former Manor CEO Graeme Lowdon, who on Tuesday “paraded around the Manor race facility as if he were a Roman General returning to Rome after a battle victory,” according to the source.
Shadowy consortiums are all the rage in F1 this year—you might remember that Longbow Finance, another faceless group, purchased Sauber in July.
The situation at Manor was quite dire, particularly as the team lost millions of dollars in prize money when Sauber overtook them for 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship at the rainy Brazilian Grand Prix, the second-last race of the season.
During the year, some of Rio Haryanto’s promised funding also failed to materialise, causing the Indonesian rookie to be replaced with Mercedes junior driver Esteban Ocon from the German Grand Prix on.
According to the Manor source, the team was set to enter administration if the sale was not completed in the next week. That would have marked the team’s second flirtation with insolvency, after its assets were sold at auction in 2014 (after which Fitzpatrick got involved, as the team tried to pick up the pieces to compete in 2015).
A new owner, presumably with a fresh injection of cash, will help to stabilize the team as they prepare for the significant changes to the technical regulations for next season. It will also ease the pain of those millions lost to Sauber.
Manor Racing have not announced the sale, nor have they responded to a request for comment. This story will be updated if the team does respond.
Update—December 15: For anyone hoping Lowdon (or John Booth) will be involved with running Manor again, that is not the case, per the team source. Apparently Lowdon just helped to broker the deal, given his contacts.