Reports: Marussia may yet make 2015 F1 grid

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Marussia – or as its company name of Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd. as team Manor F1 Team – may yet make the Formula 1 grid for the 2015 season.

The process for Marussia to return would require it leaving administration, which it was placed into in October last year, just before the United States Grand Prix at Austin. This is possible to happen by February 19, as outlined by administrators FRP Advisory.

A press release issued this morning by FRP joint administrator and partner Geoff Rowley and noted by several outlets, including NBC Sports Group F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton’s blog, reads in part as follows:

“It is envisaged that, prior to the commencement of the first race of the 2015 season, investment into the business will be made upon the Company exiting from administration via a Company Voluntary Arrangement (“CVA”), which is planned for 19 February 2015. A CVA is a restructuring process agreed with the Company’s creditors which allows for a turnaround of the business and the creation of a longer term viable solution for the team.

“Given the confidential nature of the negotiations underway we are unable to provide further details.

“The joint administrators would like on behalf of Marussia F1 Team to thank all involved with the team for their support during this process.”

There are still hurdles for Marussia to overcome even assuming the company exits administration at that date.

The car itself is a question mark. Marussia had a December auction, and a second one in January was stopped at the last minute due to talks with a possible new investor that could save the team. Even so, a 2014 car, as Buxton reports, would need to be the stopgap measure and would still require support from the rest of the grid. Per BBC’s Andrew Benson, a rule making strategy group meeting on Thursday (February 5) would likely determine if this is a feasible route.

Then, there’s the matter of where the team would work out of. A report emerged last month that the new Haas F1 Team had bought Marussia’s factory in Banbury, and while Gene Haas didn’t explicity confirm that purchase when providing a team update during the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte last week, he didn’t outright deny it either.

Drivers and crew are also needed – obviously – if other hurdles can be green lighted. And this is where Buxton has more insight, with his blog noting neither McLaren nor Ferrari would be overly keen on assisting on that front given their own respective objectives.

“Dealing with a B Team… if under the existing agreements with FOM we are obliged to run a third car we will almost definitely run it ourselves, no question,” McLaren’s Ron Dennis told Buxton at the team’s car launch last month. “If a third car is 50% wrong then two cars would be 100% wrong. You do not want to run a B Team. It is not what Formula 1 is about and it’s certainly not what we are about.”

That leaves Max Chilton, who has just recently tested for Trevor Carlin’s new Indy Lights program in Florida and is in the process of starting a new career Stateside after nearly two full years with Marussia. Crucially, he has not been confirmed to drive for Carlin as yet, but the team release and information there outlines a clear focus on the North American racing side of the equation, and not F1.

It will also, of course, come down to investment – and whether there is enough funding available to bring the team back to the grid. Per Buxton, payments would need to come through in part via the money generated by the team’s ninth place finish in the 2014 Constructor’s Championship, which are paid in segments throughout the following year rather than in a one-time lump sump.

Hopes of Marussia remain just that for the moment, but could evolve depending on the aforementioned meeting on Thursday and whether that can get the ball rolling.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III