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Ecclestone confirms teams gave red light to Marussia

NEWS STORY
06/02/2015

Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that the return of Marussia has been blocked by its rivals according to an article in the Independent by Christian Sylt.

The team ground to a spectacular halt when it went into administration at the end of October, ceased trading in November and missed the last three races of the season. Most of its 170 staff were made redundant at the beginning of November and the following month its administrators FRP Advisory held a public auction of its assets. It even sold its factory in Banbury which was bought by Gene Haas, the American entrepreneur who is launching a new team next year.

As Pitpass revealed in December, Marussia made a net loss of 29.2m in just the first eight months of last year and owes a total of 31.4m with the biggest creditor being Ferrari which is due 16.6m for supplying engines to the team. Despite these hurdles, Marussia's management was reportedly hopeful the team would be rescued.

Hopes were raised last month when FRP cancelled the second auction of the team's remaining equipment. A bigger boost came on Wednesday when FRP announced that the team expected to get funding from new investors so that it could race this year. Leading the investment group is former Sainsbury's boss Justin King, according to Mark Kleinman, the city editor of Sky News.

Kleinman of course is the man who revealed that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation was in talks about forming a consortium to buy F1. He also reported that former Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose had been approached about becoming F1's chairman and that Lloyds was in talks about buying a big stake in Silverstone. They are all great stories but none actually came to pass.

King's previous connection to F1 was as a mooted successor to Ecclestone which is another rumour that hit the wall. It was first reported in the Financial Times in late 2012 and just over a year later Ecclestone put the brakes on it in an interview with Pitpass. It looks like his latest F1 foray has bitten the dust even sooner.

As Marussia has been in limbo for the past three months it has missed valuable development time on a 2015 car so it planned to use an updated version of last year's model. This would save time and would also cost a lot less than designing a new car from scratch as its rivals have done. It didn't sit easy with them.

The decision about whether to allow Marussia to use its 2014 car was made yesterday by the Strategy Group which comprises Ecclestone, the FIA and six leading teams (Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, Williams and Force India). "They wanted to come in with last year's car and it didn't get accepted. It needed all the teams to agree and there were three or four of them that didn't agree," says Ecclestone.

If they had agreed it could have been a slippery slope. "The trouble was that you can't do these things for one team, you have got to do it for everybody," says Ecclestone adding that "maybe one or two of the other teams would have liked to use last year's car." It wasn't the only reason for Marussia being given a red light.

Last year Marussia earned an estimated 34m for finishing ninth but if the team fails to race in 2014 the prize money will be handed to its rivals. "The money that they should have got gets distributed amongst the teams that are racing. That's a pretty good reason I suppose," says Ecclestone.

Marussia's departure leaves nine teams with several understood to be in financial difficulty so the additional income will help to secure their future. In short, it benefits teams which are alive and kicking. In contrast, Marussia died back in November so would need to be resurrected to benefit from using its 2014 car this year.

Marussia was the last survivor of the three new teams launched in 2010. The first to go was Spanish outfit HRT which closed its doors at the end of 2012. Next came Caterham which went into administration days before Marussia.

All three of these teams, and every other which has gone bust in the past decade, has finished at least one season outside the top ten leaving them with no prize money. It indicates that one way to prevent an F1 exodus in future is to limit the grid to ten teams. With only nine outfits confirmed to race this year they can at least rest easy that they are all on track for a pay-day.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Peter Rickitt, 06/02/2015 17:49

""The money...gets distributed...That's a pretty good reason I SUPPOSE" says Mr. Ecclestone.

What a mealy-mouthed comment from the leader who could have put his foot down in support but did not - or did he ? But not in support but against, to keep all his players sweet and still in his thrall.

Come on Daimler Benz board - leave while you have nothing to lose: the dignity of your brand (however successful Mercedes will continue to be this year on track) should not be tainted by association with, and thus implied support for, this man and a 'sport' regulated directly by commercial interests and not a representative sporting body. Come back when there is a real 'World Championship'.
"

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2. Posted by nealio, 06/02/2015 15:03

""The trouble was that you can't do these things for one team, you have got to do it for everybody," says Ecclestone. So does this mean that each entrant for 2015 will have to gain the unanimous approval of the F1 strategy group? I'd think the lawyers would be licking their lips over this. The tech regs haven't changed that much from last year and it would seem that Marussia could modify last year's car to fit the regs for this year. If they present a chassis that conforms to the regs what reason is there to put them before the f1 strategy group? This mess is the direct result of the commercial rights holder buying the regulatory rights of F1 and marginalizing the FIA in the running of the series. I would question it's claim to being a World Championship at this point in time. "

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3. Posted by Ro, 06/02/2015 14:45

"So Ferrari was owed over 1/2 of what Marussia was in debt for....expensive engines if you ask me, bring the old ones back and maybe we will have some proper racing!"

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4. Posted by Canuck, 06/02/2015 14:35

"The FIA has 33% of the votes- which way did they go? I thought they had earlier stated that they would allow both Caterham and Manor to use their old chassis? What happened to that decision?

The last point in this article "With only nine outfits confirmed to race this year they can at least rest easy that they are all on track for a pay-day" -- you forgot to add "if they survive 2015"

Historically we have had carryover technology admitted in the following year -- example V10 allowed the first year V8 were brought in. So why not allow a year old chassis?

What a sad state F1 FIA and FOM are in when privateers are forced out. How long will Merc stay? They have left before, same as Renault, BMW, Toyota, Ford just to name a few. "

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5. Posted by auto56489, 06/02/2015 11:05

""Totally agree with you, Peter W.""

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6. Posted by Peter W, 06/02/2015 9:19

"Someone should give Bernie the red light"

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