Marussia went into administration in October last year, four years after joining F1, having accumulated debts of £63.6m. Creditors including computer company Dell, F1 team McLaren and Pirelli were paid just 1.3p in the pound. The team was rescued in February by Stephen Fitzpatrick, the boss of energy firm Ovo, and it is now known as Manor. Under its former guise it made total net losses of £144m on an annual budget of just under half the £150m average for all teams. Former owner Andrey Cheglakov says it is not money well spent.
“It’s unfortunate to say that in the 1980s and 1990s Formula One was a driver for the whole auto industry,” he said. “For the time being we are fighting for less significant elements like aerodynamics but not what is extremely important, like electronics and batteries, which would be a driver for the whole industry, so we need to change that and also of course we need to cut the budget because the overall industry cannot pay for all that the teams are spending. They are spending too much and they are spending for nothing. They are spending for aerodynamics which is not the driver for the industry.”
In 2014, Marussia scored two points and finished ninth in the championship thanks to the valiant efforts of Frenchman Jules Bianchi, who passed away last week after nine months in a coma following an accident at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix. The estimated $60m in prize money Manor received for its performance last year was a key factor in the resurrection of the team. Cheglakov says that scoring points was an uphill struggle.
“The biggest issue was to keep faith and belief,” he added. “If you are not successful for a long time, every day you need to wake up and continue.”
Marussia is not the only team which collapsed last year as Caterham also hit the wall. Although Marussia has been rescued, Caterham is missing this year and others are under pressure.