Marussia comeback hopes suffer a setback

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 05, 2015 9:06 PM

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Marussia's hopes of rising from the dead to race in next month's Formula One season-opener in Australia have suffered a setback after rivals rejected a proposal to let them compete with last year's car.

"It needed all the teams to agree and there were three or four of them that didn't," Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told the Independent newspaper on Friday.

"Maybe the other teams would have liked to use last year’s car. The trouble was that you can't do these things for one team, you have got to do it for everybody," added the 84-year-old Briton.

Formula One's strategy group, which currently comprises Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams, Ferrari, McLaren and Force India plus the governing FIA and commercial rights holders, met in Paris on Thursday.

Their decisions still have to be approved by the FIA's Formula One Commission, but that is usually a formality.

Marussia went into administration and ceased trading last October, missing the last three races of 2014. Despite their absence, they still finished ninth overall and ahead of Sauber and Caterham.

That position, as well as 10th the previous year, means they would be in line for some 30 million pounds ($45.97 million) in prize money.

The team have paid their entry fee for 2015, as Manor Grand Prix, and plan to come out of administration on Feb. 19 via a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) agreed by creditors.

Media reports have indicated that Justin King, who stepped down as Sainsbury's chief executive last year, is part of a consortium of investors interested in reviving the team.

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Being allowed to use last year's car until a new one was ready would have made life easier but the refusal to let them do so may not be a deal-blocker since teams can miss three races.

That would mean they have until Bahrain in April to build a car to the 2015 regulations, which differ mainly in nose height, and pass crash tests.

Marussia's Banbury factory has been sold, with the U.S.-owned Haas team planning to use it as their European base when they enter F1 next year, but Manor have a facility in Dinnington, northern England.

($1 = 0.6526 pounds)

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Patrick Johnston)