A new Lord at the Banbury Manor?
The 20th of January has come.. and it has gone. We have not seen any white smoke from any chimney. It seem like Manor owner Fitzpatrick is playing a lethal game of chicken with the mysterious investors.
News have trickled through that the group is Indonesian, and is likely organised Ricardo Gelael – of the Gelael family who introduced the KFC brand to Indonesia. Last season Jagonya Ayam, a subsidiary of KFC Indonesia, became sponsor of the Campos GP2 team. The Gelael the younger, Sean, was contracted to partner Mitch Evans.
Sean Geleal has competed in several European racing classes and championships like the European Formula 3 Championship, British Formula 3 (alongside to Ferrari protege Antonio Giovinazzi), Formula Renault 3.5 Series and the GP2 Series. In the latter (2016) Sean won a podium and finished the series in 15th place.
Currently Sean and his countryman Rio Haryanto are the only Indonesians to be in a position to race Formula 1. Could this mean an Indonesian double whammy?
However, nothing is certain, there have been reports of Italian and English consortia showing an interest. None of it has been confirmed.
End of November Fitzpatrick decided to stop financing the Manor team. This resulted in 1 of 3 business entities being placed under administration: the one with the most personnel, the other holding design and racing license.
In the month of November Manor lost 10th position in the Constructor’s Championship to Sauber. 11th position will bring in 20M USD less then 10th. At the time the Indonesians were already talking to Manor, but decided to break off negotiations for this financial loss.
This caused Fitzpatrick to get stuck in the selling process and his decision to stop financing the team. Might it be a trick to put some pressure on the Indonesians? Or to get another party (the administrators) at the table to smooth negotiations out?
If so, it might have been a detrimental move as Asians and Europeans are quite different in their negotiating tactics: losing face is a definite Asian no-no, more important even than money. And for playing chicken: the Indonesians know the ayam (Indonesian word for chicken) business probably better than the rest of the world..
However it might be, for the moment there are no winners, only losers: team members, potential drivers, owner, investor and fans.
The team is currently looking for budget to finish manufacturing the 2017 car and testing some new bits for the 2016 version. They have estimated that time is already too short to get the 2017 car on the grid in Melbourne, and have requested FIA to use the 2016 cars.
All the same, time is ticking. Even if Manor could make it to the grid is 2017, lost development time, already lost personnel will translate in lost time on the track. This only means Manor would once again be holding the red lantern for the season.
TJ13 sides with Roberto Merhi on this one: the more cars on the grid, the better. If it is in their powers, we would like to urge the new F1 management to keep Manor competing for the 2017 season. It would certainly show compassion and would set a step in the right direction.
Note: a reader pointed us to news which allowed the following (additional) section to the article.
The Indonesian investors seem to be a consortium of Asian investors organized behind and by Capital GF. An article on Sindonews identifies Manor’s Vincent Casey and CGF’s Damian Irwin as the people organizing Manor’s return to the grid.
CGF Country manager, Adi Surjanto, said that the investors are part of a large network of large investors in Asia with a special interest in sport.