ABU DHABI – Marussia F1 Team has fallen short in a last-ditch attempt to race in this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that could have put the Anglo-Russian outfit in line for a $40m windfall.
After struggling financially for some time, the Marussia F1 operation entered administration following the Russian Grand Prix in October, before ultimately closing its doors and making 200 staff redundant two weeks ago.
However, it emerged in Brazil that efforts were still being made to get the team to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the year, with participation in the final race preventing its likely exclusion from the constructors’ championship and the loss of ninth place in the standings – set to be the team’s best ever season in F1.
Ferrari engine personnel were spotted sporting Marussia shirts on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, with two garages between Caterham and Williams being cleared in case of the team’s arrival. Personnel and cargo were also on standby to be transported to the Yas Marina Circuit ahead of Thursday’s scrutineering deadline.
These garages have been left empty for Marussia should the team make Abu Dhabi. Would be fab for the sport if so. pic.twitter.com/rP3yxy7SpS
— Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1) November 19, 2014
Ultimately though, the 11th-hour talks fell short, with the team’s driver, Max Chilton, confirming on Twitter that Marussia would not be racing in Abu Dhabi after all.
Devastated for everyone involved at Marussia in the past 24 hours that the hard work trying to get to Abu Dhabi didn’t work out as we hoped. — Max Chilton (@maxchilton) November 19, 2014
Therefore, we will have a 10-team grid for the final race of the 2014 Formula 1 season, with Caterham returning after two races away following its own financial struggles. Kamui Kobayashi is the only confirmed driver up to now, but with the FIA publishing the entry list for this weekend’s race today, we should know who the second driver is in the next few hours.
Wednesday did yield some good news for Marussia, though. Jules Bianchi has been transferred to a hospital in France and is no longer in an artificial coma following his accident at the Japanese Grand Prix in October that left him with severe head injuries.
Bianchi scored the team’s only points in F1 history at the Monaco Grand Prix in May, battling through to finish ninth in one of the best stories the sport has seen this year. However, the financial bonus of a higher championship finish is set to be lost due to the closure of the team, with Caterham the likely beneficiary.