The main story off track for most of the second half of the season, has been that Red Bull and Toro Rosso may be quitting Formula One. With the arrival of the Haas F1 team this would leave the 2016 season starting grid in Australia with just 18 cars.
That number cold now well fall to 16 as the news that Marussia Manor’’s Graham Lowden (Sporting Director) and John Booth have quit the team the Telegraph is reporting. Both men were crucial to the revival of Marussia team after their Russian oligarch owner, Andrei Cheglakov, pulled the plug following the inaugural Russian GP in 2014.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, the principal of OVO energy group bought the team and invested around $45m. Marussia also received prize money for finishing 10th in 2014 and along with the other funding all the top 10 teams receive from FOM, this meant there was a budget of around $100m for Manor Marussia to compete in this years championship.
Lowden and Booth are the heart of the Marussia Manor team and John Booth was involved with both Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen during the early part of their racing careers. The Telegraph states that tension has increased over the past months as Fitzpatrick has excluded both Lowden and Booth from significant decisions affecting the future of the team.
A source told TJ13 in Austin, that the Manor duo had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of funds to develop the car this year, and there are suspicions that Fitzpatrick used part of the 2016 FOM funding to repay his investment. This of course is a team owners prerogative, however Lowden and Booth believe promises made have now been broken.
Ecclestone refuses to pay the teams until the end of the season monies owed to them for the following year. This is to prevent owners cashing in on the prize money and failing to turn up the following year.
Manor Racing was formed by Booth in 1990 and has competed in a number of single seater series below Formula One. The GP3 team was sold in 2014 and Manor are competing this year only in F1 and the Eurocup Renault 2.0litre championship. Rumours suggest Booth and Lowden are looking to the WEC for their futures.