Manor F1 ready for takeover after terms agreed with investor

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) The struggling Manor Formula One team is on the verge of a takeover after its owner said Friday that terms have been agreed with a new investor.

Speaking at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, British businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick said that the team has been in discussions with several investors over the past six months and one is now in pole position.

“We have agreed terms with an investor at the moment and we are still working through that,” said Fitzpatrick, who rescued the team from administration in time for the 2015 season. “I can’t really talk more about the specifics.”

Fitzpatrick is now prepared to take a back seat as long as it makes the team stronger.

“One of the things I was quite clear on, right from the start, was that in the current F1, money equals performance,” he said. “So anything that was going to bring more funding to the team and help the team develop I was very open to … (even) if that meant bringing in another investor, and even a majority investor.”

Manor has scored one point this season, putting it in 11th and last place in the constructors’ standings heading into Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.

Manor is still aiming for 10th place and is one point behind Sauber, which currently holds that position.

The difference between 10th and 11th is several millions in terms of television rights and revenue distribution.

Losing out on 10th spot would not affect the impending takeover, however.

“It doesn’t help financially, but the terms of our agreement have been re-finalized, let’s say,” Fitzpatrick explained. “(It’s) not a deal breaker.”

Highly-rated German driver Pascal Wehrlein scored the team’s only point this year after finishing 10th at the Austrian GP in July.

Esteban Ocon is Manor’s other driver, but the 20-year-old Frenchman is joining Force India next season.

Werhlein, meanwhile, is tipped to replace Brazilian Felipe Nasr at Sauber, a move made potentially more likely with the news that Nasr has lost his banking sponsor Banco do Brasil.

“That’s correct. The bank informed us as well,” Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said at the same news conference as Fitzpatrick. “They have interrupted their 2017 sponsorship program. Our seat is still open, we are including that in our assessment.”