Manor: Chances of saving F1 team receive boost as staff retained

Esteban Ocon of Manor
Manor finished bottom of the constructors' championship last season

Attempts to save the Manor team have been boosted by a decision to keep all staff employed until at least the end of January.

The team's operating company, Just Racing, went into administration on 6 January and Manor will collapse if a buyer is not found.

Administrator FRP Advisory has found the money to pay staff for January.

It means it has a week more than expected to find a buyer before having to consider whether to lay off staff.

About 100 employees are still working at Manor's base in Banbury, Oxfordshire, preparing a car for the 2017 season.

FRP, which was unavailable for comment, is in talks with a number of potential investors but is still at the stage of doing due diligence into their financial worthiness and the sustainability of their plans.

Administrators have a statutory 14 days from the date they are appointed before they become liable themselves for paying salaries and other expenses - which would have meant 20 January was the cut-off had the extra cash not been found within the team's accounts.

Staff were due to be given the information about the deadline extension when they went to work on Friday.

Manor have been granted permission by Formula 1's governing body the FIA to use their 2016 chassis, with minor modifications, as the basis for the car that is raced at the beginning of the season, should they find a buyer.

The FIA has told the team there is no need to re-submit the chassis for its mandatory crash test, even though it has a small modification to meet 2017 regulations.

The F1 rules have been changed significantly for this season, introducing much faster cars by making the maximum width of the car bigger, changing the front and rear wings and redefining the underfloor so more aerodynamic downforce can be created.

At this stage, Manor could still prepare a full 2017 design for the start of the season, but time is running out.

Insiders say that the technical team have looked at all options in terms of car preparation - a full 2017 car, a 2016 car modified to varying degrees and so on - and which one they choose will depend on how much time they have available if the team is saved.

It will be up to the team to prove to the FIA that the car they produce complies fully with the 2017 rules.

Manor appear to be preparing to save money by using a car that is changed as little as possible from last year while complying with the new rules.

Even if a buyer is not found by the end of January, it does not necessarily mean the team will immediately collapse.

Staff might begin to be laid off if the team is not sold by then but, in theory, Manor can miss up to the first three races of the season before losing their rights to race in F1. The fourth race is the Russian Grand Prix on 28-30 April.

It has emerged that Manor twice came close to a sale, just before new year and then again just before the company went into administration, but each time it fell through at the last minute.

One sale came so close before it collapsed that technical director John McQuilliam resigned as a director of Manor Grand Prix Limited, the company that owns the rights to the team and their entry in F1, on the assumption new directors would soon be appointed.

The termination of McQuilliam's position as a director was on 31 December and was filed at Companies House on 11 January.

A spokesman said: "John remains with the team and remains fully committed to working with colleagues and the joint administrators to secure the future of Manor Racing.

"On 30 December 2016 John resigned his position as a statutory director of Manor Grand Prix Racing Limited in anticipation at that time of Manor Racing being imminently under new ownership."

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