And we do not feel fine. The result we all feared arrived this evening in Sao Paulo. Felipe Nasr’s stunning drive to 9th place means Sauber now leapfrog Manor in the Constructors Championship.
Whilst there is still one race left on the calendar, the likelihood of a freak race in Abu Dhabi is as likely as Esteban Gutierrez sending Gene Haas a Christmas card this year. I am afraid to announce ladies and gentleman that all hope is lost at Manor Racing Fan Blog HQ. Manor will be finishing 11th this season and missing out on a reported $30m dollars. Put it this way, It’s a very good job we don’t own a cat tonight. A bottle of whisky is open and we are not going to bed until we see the bottom of the bottle.
We cannot say we did not seeing this result coming. Firstly, Sauber have been getting stronger and stronger as the season has progressed. With their financial woes looking like a thing of the past, they have invested in their R&D for this years car when other teams had started planning for 2017 and signed key personnel including former strategists Ruth Buscombe who masterminded Nasr’s move from 21st to 9th in tonight’s race.
Secondly, Manor should never allowed themselves to be in this position. Once Sauber had sorted out their behind the scenes issues, the likelihood of a freak race between then and the end of the season was always going to happen. In all honestly, at this stage of the season Sauber should be so far behind Manor that it should have needed more than just one freak race and 2 measly points to overtake us.
For the entire season Manor had the best engines on the grid in a chassis that was on par with the Sauber for the most part of the season. For the second half of the season the MRT05 has been piloted by two drivers whom the current World Champions believe are the future of the their participation in F1 whilst Sauber have had two capable but average funded drivers driving for them. For large parts of the season we didn’t even think Sauber would finish the season as employee’s went unpaid. They were in a mess and Manor should have hit home their advantage whilst they had the chance.
Poor results in Spa and Monza in hindsight look utterly disastrous now. The car was designed with those two tracks in mind and the car should have been capable of challenging for a double points finish. A series of technical issues and first lap crashes has came back to haunt the team in a big way. After those results and with their financial issues sorted Sauber threw the kitchen sink at their current car and paid homage to that all saying that in order to make a little, you have to spend a little. It paid off.
It is probably too early to fully comprehend what today’s result means for the team but it certainly is a massive blow for the team in the short and medium term and a worst case scenario of the team folding should not be ruled out.
For 2017, it is highly likely that the two race seats will now have to go to the highest bidder. There is now a $30 million sized hole in the budget that will have to made up somehow. The obvious way to make that up to to hire two pay drivers and with at least three current F1 drivers looking for a seat and a reported $15 million dollars of loose change found down the back of their couch the team should not struggle to find two funded drivers. Expect to see Guitterez, Nasr or the return of Rio Haryanto being linked with the team in the next few weeks.
It has been a awful few days for Pascal Wehrlein. Snubbed by Force India and now his entire F1 career is hanging by a thread. If Pascal stays or goes, will tell us a lot about the teams financial health. He could also be saved by Merc upping their relationship with Manor and making them their B-team. Having missed out on the sure fire next big thing, Max Verstappen because Red Bull could offer him a drive with a B team it now must be on their agenda to ensure they do not miss out again. We can hope right?
Either way, the team needs a savoir and fast. It may come in the form of a handsome Indonesian with a business connection or a Mexican who just happens to know the world richest man or it may come from our friends at Stuttgart. We don’t care who it is, as long as our beloved little team can continue to participate in F1.