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Irish investor saves Manor F1 team
04 Mar 2015 17:05
Manor will be on the grid for the season-opening Formula One grand prix in Australia after being saved by energy entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick.
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Fitzpatrick is a 37-year-old Northern Irishman who founded Bristol-based energy company Ovo in 2009, the primary rival to the 'big six' of British Gas, Npower, SSE, Scottish Power, E.On and EDF.
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Main investor Fitzpatrick has been assisted in the rescue package by Justin King, the former CEO of supermarket giant Sainsbury, who will initially serve as interim chairman.
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The team, formerly known as Marussia that went into administration at the end of October and missed the final three races of last season, will continue to be run by sporting director Graeme Lowdon and team principal John Booth.
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Manor has been preparing their cars at their old base in Dinnington, South Yorkshire, which comply fully with the 2015 regulations.
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Lowdon claims the cars, which are being crash tested this week, are "a new concept of car with a very high degree of carry over (from 2014), with a lot of safety upgrades for 2015".
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But the team will definitely be heading to Melbourne for the first race on March 13-15, with the majority of the freight on its way to Albert Park on Friday.
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Fitzpatrick, who previously worked as an investment banker at JP Morgan, concedes when he first approached Lowdon the team's cause appeared "almost hopeless".
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Fitzpatrick added: "It was one of those situations that needed more time to understand everything, so it seemed too late, with no realistic possibility of reviving the team.
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"But it was ironic that after making it through a hard first five years, claiming ninth in last year's championship and reaching the first rung of financial stability - if there is such a thing in Formula One - and then running out of steam, it seemed like too good a story to end there.
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"So I looked to see if there was a way to help this team cling to life, to survival.
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"After speaking to Graeme, who was very straightforward and we had some frank discussions, there was just one long list of challenges, top of which was to re-establish credibility with the main suppliers, like Ferrari.
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"It was a very complex landscape, with a lot of legal and financial challenges, and now in 10 days' time we will be in Melbourne with a solid business platform on which to operate.
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"For me, Justin has been a huge help in navigating the landmines, especially as this is the first company I've bought."
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