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Manor F1 enters administration as team faces collapse

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The Manor Formula 1 operation has entered administration for the second time in less than three years amid ongoing financial difficulties.

Manor missed the final three races of the 2014 season after a financial collapse, only to return in 2015 as Manor Racing under new ownership.

British energy executive Stephen Fitzpatrick has funded the team for the past two seasons, with 2016 arguably being Manor’s strongest F1 campaign to date since the first edition of the project debuted back in 2010.

However, Manor still ended the season bottom of the constructors’ championship after being overtaken by Sauber at the penultimate round, costing the team millions in prize money.

Fitzpatrick said over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend in November that talks were ongoing with an investor, understood to be American-Mexican businessman Tavo Hellmund, regarding a possible takeover.

It now appears that talks have broken down, with Sky News reporting on Friday morning that Manor is planning to enter administration, putting 200 jobs at risk.

The report states that employees at Manor’s base will be informed of developments on Friday, adding that the team is not currently able to afford to test for 2017. The first collective running is due to take place on February 27 in Barcelona.

Manor has not yet made any plans for the 2017 season public, although Wehrlein was expected to leave the team in favor of a move to Sauber, while Esteban Ocon, who raced for the team for the final nine races of the 2016 season, had already been confirmed at Force India for the new campaign.

The new F1 season will begin on March 26 in Melbourne, Australia.

UPDATE – MANOR OFFICIALLY ENTERS ADMINISTRATION

Following the Sky News report early on Friday, FRP Advisory has now been appointed the joint administrators of Just Racing Services Ltd., the company that owns and operates Manor.

When contacted for comment by NBC Sports, FRP Advisory gave the following statement.

“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,” joint administrator Geoff Rowley said.

“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. Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place JRSL into administration.

“The joint administrators are currently assessing options for the Group.

“The 2017 season commences on 26 March in Melbourne, Australia, and the team’s participation 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.

“No redundancies have been made following JRSL’s entering into administration and all staff have been paid in full to the end of December.

“The ongoing staff position will however be dependent on whether new investment can be secured in the limited time available and the joint administrators will continue to review the ongoing financial position.

“Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd, the sister company of JRSL, which has the rights for the team’s participation in F1 is not in administration.

“We remain highly focused on engaging with interested parties.”

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/