Manor worth saving, says new investor Stephen Fitzpatrick

Manor investor Stephen Fitzpatrick says he could not stand to see the former Marussia Formula 1 team disappear after it had finally achieved its breakthrough points in 2014

Manor worth saving, says new investor Stephen Fitzpatrick

Manor investor Stephen Fitzpatrick says he could not stand to see the former Marussia Formula 1 team disappear after it had finally achieved its breakthrough points in 2014.

Ovo Energy founder Fitzpatrick was revealed as the key investor behind the Manor revival on Wednesday, as the team confirmed that its car would be ready for the Australian Grand Prix.

"Until November last year I was on wrong side of F1 fence," Fitzpatrick explained.

"My most recent F1 experience was I went to the grand prix in Singapore with a friend, we were walking down the track at the end of the race and looking at all the fans lined up on the pitwall - and looking at garages. I said we need to figure out a way to get over there.

"For a long time I had an ambition to own an F1 team, I was hoping Ovo Energy would be successful enough to own a team, but I didn't expect it to be in 2015."

He admitted that getting Manor back on the grid had initially appeared impossible.

"I picked up the phone to Geoff Rowley, the administrator, before the last race in Abu Dhabi and got an understanding of the current situation at the time, and challenges the team were facing - the amount of money involved, level of debts involved.

"It seemed fascinating - almost hopeless. It looked like one of those situations that with more time to understand everything, there was maybe a great opportunity.

"But it was too late. There wasn't any realistic possibility of reviving the team.

"Having made it through the hard five years, to get to the point of ninth in the championship, two years in the top 10, to reach the first rung of financial stability and due to receive fund money, to have run out of steam right at the last hurdle... it seemed like too good story to let end there.

"One of the things that really motivated me was how great a story it could be to figure out a way to help this team cling to survival."

Fitzpatrick said he and Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon had put huge effort in to re-establishing the team over the winter.

"I very quickly established an easy working relationship with Graeme, had frank conversations about the challenges, team suppliers, the quality of team that was there - and as Graeme said, one long list of challenges.

"We ascertained the top priorities - including Ferrari, then a host of 200 smaller creditors and suppliers that made up the backing of the team.

"We went through them one at a time, establishing relationships with creditors and suppliers, new commercial arrangements with them, and bringing the company out of administration, dealing with the FIA entry, with FOM, engine and design contracts.

"In 10 days' time we will be in Melbourne with a very solid, clean business platform to operate on."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Manor Racing
Author Jonathan Noble
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