- The Inside Line
Reviving MarussiaKate Walker February 4, 2015
The fortunes of Formula One appeared to receive something of a boost today when reports emerged that viable efforts to rescue Marussia were afoot. Fears of ever-dwindling grids looked to be minimised, and with ex-Sainsbury's boss Justin King reported to be behind the rescue effort the prospect of salvation seemed credible.
Until reports started to circulate in the Jerez paddock that work was already underway to scupper the bid by any means necessary.
Thanks to the auctioning off of a significant chunk of the team's assets - including staff laptops, the factory itself, and all of the moulds associated with the 2015 car - any chance Marussia (or Manor) have of making it to Melbourne depends entirely on their being given permission to run their 2014 car. The topic will be discussed during tomorrow's meeting of the F1 Strategy Group in Paris, but will also require the approval of those teams not included in the sport's key decision-making body.
Speaking off the record, a number of well-placed sources have indicated that Marussia's possible return is being sold to the teams as an either-or situation: either you vote against the team's last-minute revival or discussions of financial redistribution within the sport will come to a premature end. For if a returning Marussia are in the position to collect their share of the prize fund, said fund will not be available for wider use.
And there are at least two very credible reasons for denying Marussia their chance of revival that their rivals could use without losing any face at all...
First, when the team entered administration they owed considerable sums to suppliers, including engine manufacturer Ferrari. Will a returning team need to clear those debts before buying 2015 power units? Can they clear those debts? Would Ferrari even be interested in continuing to supply a team which so recently owed them millions? How successful would bodging a 2015 power unit into a 2014 car be? What about other components? Will suppliers of composite materials, fuel tanks, and brake discs be willing to reboot their relationships with a team whose dissolution sent financial aftershocks down the supply chain?
Then there are potential safety concerns. While the 2014 Marussia was a definite improvement on its predecessors - and CAD files from the 2015 design schematic indicate that this year's car would have been one of the most revolutionary on the grid - the MR03 was not a high-speed beast fighting at the front. There is a strong argument for saying that the improvements made by the rest of the field over the winter would leave the Marussias so far adrift at the back of the pack that they become dangerous mobile chicanes.
Those are the excuses, and it will be interesting to see if they are used following next week's F1 Commission meeting.