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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.”

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”