Belfast Telegraph

Administrator called into Northern Ireland man's Manor Formula 1 team

The Manor Formula 1 team, which was backed by Northern Ireland man Stephen Fitzpatrick, has collapsed into administration after failing to secure fresh investment, putting hundreds of jobs and its participation in the new season at risk.

The group employs 212 staff and administrator FRP Advisory said while no redundancies have been made, the ongoing staff position is "dependent on whether new investment can be secured".

Ovo Energy chief and Belfast native Stephen Fitzpatrick put in £30m of his own money to help the team, previously called Marussia, get out of administration in 2015. The investment also took the F1 fan from the grandstands to the pits.

He made the investment in the troubled team with Justin King, the former head of Sainsbury's.

Manor are understood to have suffered a financial hit in the region of £11m when rivals Sauber overtook them for 10th place in the F1 standings at last season's penultimate round.

In a much-improved season on 2015, the team scored one point in 2016 with Pascal Wehrlein's 10th place finish in Austria.

It's been reported Mr Fitzpatrick had been in discussions with new investors in recent months to secure the team's long-term future but no deal was struck, leading to the administrators being called.

On Friday, Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner at FRP Advisory, said: "The team has made significant progress under its new ownership since the start of 2015, the highlight of which included securing a constructors' championship point in the preceding F1 season, but the position remains that operating a F1 team requires significant ongoing investment.

"During recent months, the senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment to the team to secure its long term future, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available."

Manor's participation in the 2017 Formula 1 season, which begins on March 26 in Melbourne, Australia, will "depend on the outcome of the administration process and any related negotiations with interested parties in what is a very limited window of opportunity", FRP confirmed.

Management was left with "no alternative" but to place Manor's parent company, Just Racing Services Limited, into administration, Mr Rowley added.

FRP said Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd - the sister company of Just Racing Services - which has the rights for the team's participation in F1, is not in administration.

FRP are currently assessing options for the group.

Born in Belfast, Fitzpatrick attended Our Lady and St Patrick's College before studying business and finance at Edinburgh University in 1995. After finishing his MA, he launched The Rental Guide Ltd, a property newspaper, for which was nominated for the Livewire Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

This led on to jobs in the City of London with financial institutions Societe Generale and JP Morgan. As the financial crisis started, he left to set up the Bristol-based OVO in 2009.