Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Monte-Carlo, 2014

Manor memories: Their seven F1 seasons in pictures

F1 picturesPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Before arriving in Formula One Manor helped the likes of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton on their way to Formula One.

But their own shot at the big time was compromised from the outset. Given the challenges they faced when they arrived in the sport as Virgin in 2010, it’s remarkable they continued as long as they did.

As Virgin, Marussia and finally Manor, the team stumbled at first then punched above their weight. However their most promising season to date appears also to have been their last.

2010

Lucas di Grassi, Virgin, Shanghai, 2010
Lucas di Grassi joined Timo Glock in the team’s first driver line-up

Like all of the newcomer teams in 2010, Virgin had the rug pulled from under it when the cost-capped regulations it had entered the sport under were scrapped in 2009. With nothing like the budget needed to compete in the midfield, the team inevitably struggled.

This was a tough break for John Booth and Graeme Lowden, the men behind Manor who had successfully won backing from the FIA to enter the sport. However they successfully lured Richard Branson’s Virgin brand from Brawn, who were being taken over by Mercedes, giving them the means to at least make good on their plans to go racing.

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However the VR-01, designed by ex-Benetton and Simtek man Nick Wirth, had some fundamental shortcomings. A bold attempt to create an F1 car entirely using Computational Fluid Dynamics while almost entirely avoiding wind tunnel running failed to pay off. The car was short on downforce and, worse, couldn’t carry enough fuel to race flat-out at many events, at least until is was superseded by a revised design.

Despite the sterling efforts of Timo Glock (who impressively kept Adrian Sutil’s Force India behind him at Singapore until he had to pit) and rookie Lucas di Grassi, the team ended the year point-less and last. At the end of the season Rio Haryanto, who would race for the team in their final campaign, made his test debut with them at Yas Marina.

2011

Timo Glock, Virgin, Jerez, 2011
Another unsuccessful year led to a major change in design direction

The most promising news for the team in 2010 had been the arrival of Russian sports car manufacturer Marussia as an investor. They would eventually take over naming rights from Virgin, whose investment in the team had been minimal.

The MVR-02 did not provide the leap forward the team were hoping for and the decision was taken to split with Wirth and get their next chassis into a wind tunnel. The arrival of Pat Symonds, making his return to F1 following the Crashgate scandal, gave the design team new direction. But they ended the year last once again as points remained elusive for Glock and new team mate Jerome D’Ambrosio.

2012

Charles Pic, Marussia, Mugello, 2012
The team lost its grip on tenth at the final round

Now officially renamed Marussia and benefitting from a technical tie-up with McLaren which included access to their wind tunnel, clear progress was made by the team in 2012. However their season took a dire turn away from the tracks.

While conducting a straight-line aerodynamic run at Duxford Aerodrome, test driver Maria de Villota struck the team’s support truck. She suffered serious head injuries and lost her right eye. De Villota died the following year.

The accident cast a pall over the team’s season. They led fellow 2010 newcomers Caterham (formerly Lotus) and HRT in the points standings until the final race of the year, when Glock’s latest team mate Charles Pic was beaten to 11th by Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham in Brazil. The following year Pic was a Caterham driver.

That race also marked the final appearance for Glock, as the team had to find a funded replacement for him in 2013, anticipating the cost hike of new engine regulations the year after. His 12th at Singapore had put them in the running for tenth in the championship and the cash windfall which would have accompanied it.

2013

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Singapore, 2013
Jules Bianchi took Marussia to new heights

By the final year of the V8 engine regulations HRT had already gone to the wall and Marussia were the only team left using Cosworth’s engines. They were at least finally able to afford KERS for the first time.

Luiz Razia was initially announced alongside Max Chilton as part of an all-new, all-rookie line-up. But his funding failed to materialise and, little more than three weeks after getting the seat, he was prised out to make way for Ferrari junior driver Jules Bianchi.

It was Bianchi who delivered the team’s best result of the season. His 13th place at Sepang, over half a minute clear of the Caterhams, pushed Marussia to a new high of tenth in the constructors’ championship. Chilton also proved a dependable pedaller, reaching the chequered flag in every race.

2014

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Monte-Carlo, 2014
In a tragic 2014, Bianchi scored the teams first points before suffering fatal injuries

The arrival of new and vastly more sophisticated power units in 2014 put the back-of-the-grid teams under even greater cost pressures. With no customer engines available, Marussia sourced Ferrari units at considerable cost.

They at least had the novelty of consistency in its driver line-up for the first time ever. And Bianchi made good when an opportunity presented itself in Monaco. He crossed the line in eighth place and though a post-race penalty cost him one position he nonetheless finally delivered the team’s first points.

But the entire sport was shook to its core by Bianchi’s crash at Suzuka. Pressing on in a worsening downpour, Bianchi aquaplaned while approaching a crash scene and struck a crane which was recovering another driver’s car. He suffered severe head injuries and died the following year.

In the aftermath the severity of the team’s situation became clear too. After Russia, where Chilton drove their sole car, they did not reappear all year.

2015

Alexander Rossi, Will Stevens, Manor, Interlagos, 2015
The team staggered through 2015 with a year-old car

Over the winter of 2015-16 it appeared to be all over for Marussia. The team went into receivership and the first in a series of auctions to sell off their assets was held. Incredibly, a deal was then struck with Stephen Fitzpatrick to rescue the team. They arrived in Australia with two 2014-specification cars, though neither of them ran.

The team saw out the season with their year-old hardware and never looked like getting on terms with the rest of the field. By now Caterham had also gone, leaving Marussia the only remaining representatives of the ‘class of 2010’.

Its new roster of drivers included Will Stevens, Roberto Merhi and, for five races, Alexander Rossi. The latter had come close to making his debut for them the year before at Spa when a payment from Chilton’s sponsors failed to materialise on time.

Ironically it was only as the team formally adopted the ‘Manor’ name for the first time that the men behind their original entry into F1 were moved aside. Booth and Lowden left to take the Manor name into the World Endurance Championship.

2016

Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, Red Bull Ring, 2016
A point for Pascal Wehrlein at the Red Bull Ring proved a false dawn

In their seventh year of Formula One the team produced what was clearly its most convincing performance yet. But it appears not to have been enough to secure their future.

Landing a supply of class-leading Mercedes power units finally gave the team a chance to compete in the midfield. This they did, and in Austria junior Mercedes driver Pascal Wehrlein claimed a point which gave them a crack at ninth in the championship.

Journeyman Rio Haryanto contributed little beyond a few million in sponsorship. When that dried up he was elbowed aside in favour of the much more promising Esteban Ocon. Despite little familiarity with the car he ran in the points for much of the soaked Brazilian Grand Prix, only losing his grip on the top ten in the latter stages.

But that race may have proven the final blow for the team. Felipe Nasr’s ninth place to Sauber relegated Manor to last in the championship, and with it severed a vital financial lifeline.

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20 comments on “Manor memories: Their seven F1 seasons in pictures”

  1. Sad to see them go. Like Minardi, we always cheered for the underdogs. They made it 7 seasons, I can’t believe they have been here that long. Pascal in Austria, Bianchi in Monaco, these things are great for F1. Way better than a Mercedes 1-2 every race.

    It’s now down to Sauber to be the surprise of 2017, and seeing Wehrlein finish in the points with a Sauber just won’t surprise me as much and won’t appear as stunning.

  2. The Virgin car was such a beauty!

    1. @marussi They might not have had much but at least they had a proper livery. Though 2010 was a particularly good one for cars: yellow Renault, green Lotus, definitely one of the most colourful recent seasons.

    2. Since they won’t be in the grid next season, surely there are some guys looking for jobs at the moment. Lets hope some team hires the graphic designer

  3. Although just a modified 2014 car, I thought the 2015 Manor was really nice! The livery definitely enhanced the look.

  4. Does anyone know if jules’ Monaco Chassis was the one he crashed in? Otherwise whatever became of It?

    1. It was, chassis 1.

  5. Such a shame they didn’t go as beautifully as they looked. Over 7 seasons, by far the prettiest cars on the Grid.

  6. You know you’re getting old when you realise that Manor raced voor seven seasons.
    Sad to see them go.

  7. I find it interesting to see the name of sponsors who came and went with the team through the years. For the smaller teams, I always thought the FIA should allow them to run their cars in different liveries to make it easier for them to attract 2 sponsors for less cost but equal to money for one sponsor on both cars.

    1. Ambrogio Isgrò
      30th January 2017, 20:47

      At the end of the ’90s, BAR made two different liveries (one white and red and the other blue and yellow, the main sponsor was British American Tobacco and they thought cleverly to use two different cigarettes brands from their group) for each car, but it was forbidden immediately.

      1. I remember they then resorted to running two liveries on the same car, one on each side. Works but really ugly as sin.

  8. I think this is the first time I’ve seen some of those cars. Sad.

  9. Seeing these pictures, what stings me personally is the fact that part of what makes Manor today such an unappealing sale, is the risk of lawsuits from the Bianchi family. Looking at the pictures of Bianchi, of the team, knowing the man, I can’t imagine at all that’s what he would have wanted.

  10. RIP Maria
    RIP Jules
    RIP Manor

  11. Sad to see them fold, there’s quite a lot of heartbreak that the team had to deal with in their time. And losing a points-scoring back marker team is very disappointing: who gives the next gen a shot in F1, like Bianchi, Ocon or Pascal got from Manor?

    Some nice memories too, when the underdogs had their moment, though.

  12. Hi, i’m an italian f1 fan and i’m sorry for my English.
    I’m a Manor Racing Team Fan and when it failed I decided to create a crowfunding for save the team:
    https://www.generosity.com/sports-fundraising/save-manor-racing-team/x/15978348
    after this I entered in contact with a spokesman of CGF, a group of Indonesian Investitors who are interesting to buy the team and they have advised to fix the limit of the petition at only 500000 dollars.
    But now the relationship is difficoult.
    Please I ask you an help, for the manor and the Formula 1. Only a watch or a share. Please.

    1. Last time Manor got sold, it was for somewhere in the region of $55 million – over 100 times the amount of the petition. I think there may be a scale issue here.

  13. Manor team is the most unluckiest team of all time. Two driver killed, get knocked off the 10th place in the standing twice in the closing stages of the calender by nothing out off pure luck and chaos in the wet (2012 by Caterham, 2016 by Sauber); and bankrupt right before real changes are coming to F1 management that will certainly help them.

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