February 06, 2017

F1 News: To The Manor Born

Manor F1, the last of the four "Class of 2010" teams, has pulled down the garage doors for the last time.  The cash-strapped team, running on a shoestring and a prayer for the past couple of years, has been desperately looking for a buyer since the end of the 2016 season.  There was no white knight to be found, and the active staff was apparently let go on the last day of January.  Interestingly, while the team is gone, the company that holds Manor's rights to race in F1 is still alive.  In theory, they could field a team or sell the rights off to another (approved) race group.  In practice, it's a moot point as there currently aren't any approved applicants out there.

Manor lasted for seven seasons, scoring a total of three points: two in 2014 and 2016.  Sadly, the team had two of its drivers suffer major head injuries and pass away: Maria DeVillota during testing and Jules Bianchi during the 2014 Grand Prix of Japan.  This team was supposed to be the one that changed how F1 cars were designed; under the Virgin F1 banner, the VR01 and MVR02 chassis were created and tested solely via computer.  No wind tunnel tests were needed, they said.  Computational Fluid Dynamic testing dominated the designs for the first four years, with the best result being a freak 13th place at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix after many cars retired from that race.  The next design, the MR03 in 2014 and the MR03b in 2015, showed some promise with a 9th place finish at Monaco in 2014.  But then money issues reared their ugly head and 2016s MRT05 was a legitimate disappointment; it scored but a single point despite running the dominating Mercedes engine.  This failure put the team 11th for the season, where they received no championship payout from the FIA and ultimately doomed the team.

In the end, it was hard not to root for Manor.  They legitimately tried very hard to make a go of it and were obviously quite devoted racers.  They outlasted HRT and Lotus/Caterham (and USF1, but that's another story) by a few years... with a bit of luck, they could have become as much a fixture on the grid as any team.  In a few years, people will be looking back at their final car and realize just how gorgeous it was.

Pre-season rollouts are just a couple of weeks away.  Sadly, Manor will not be one of them.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:21 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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1 Interesting data point for the "designed solely by computer" mindset, isn't it? Still, a shame to see a valiant effort come to an end like that.

Posted by: GreyDuck at February 06, 2017 08:26 AM (rKFiU)

2 GD, it really is.  Either computers aren't powerful enough... and Virgin/Marussia had far and away the most powerful computer system in F1, the 10th largest supercomputer in the UK, and the 230th most powerful in the world... or the software wasn't sophisticated enough to simulate all the airflow over a F1 car at speed.

Other teams use CFD, sure, but they augment it with a LOT of wind-tunnel testing.  In theory, HaasF1 has a huge advantage over the other teams because... well, hell, they have open access to the world's best rolling-road wind tunnel, which is owned by Haas.  There's FIA-imposed limits on how much wind tunnel time you can do, but... well.

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 06, 2017 07:17 PM (UDOXQ)

3 Will the remaining teams be enough to fill up the grid?

Posted by: Mauser at February 06, 2017 08:16 PM (5Ktpu)

4 Oh yeah.  There'll be 20 cars on the grid, and while that's a far cry from 26, the first five years I wrote about F1 here, the grid was 20 cars.  It's absolutely enough.

Unless Sauber goes under, of course... 18 cars starts to look a little... sparse.

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 06, 2017 11:18 PM (UDOXQ)

5 I'm still irked at Sauber for their contract-breaking four-drivers-two-cars fiasco.  The fact that they basically killed Manor by finishing 10th last year has not done anything to endear them to me.  If any team had to fold, it should've been Sauber.  And to think, I used to like them, as recently as the Kobayashi-Perez days.

Posted by: flatdarkmars at February 07, 2017 09:20 PM (Kf7l3)

6 Sauber under Peter Sauber was great, the plucky lil' team what could.  Sauber under Monisha Kaltenborn seems to be slightly rudderless.

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 07, 2017 09:45 PM (UDOXQ)

7 Why is it that F1 teams only get 8 days of testing prior to the season?  I don't know, maybe that's as many as they need, but considering everything that goes into an F1 season for a team, it seems like a pitifully short amount of time to properly prepare a car and team for a new campaign.

Posted by: Tom at February 13, 2017 07:41 PM (mSIXR)

8 It's a financial thing, Tom.  Back when I started writing about F1, you had unlimited testing all year round.  That's one of the reasons Ferrari was so good back then: unlimited fundage, their own circuit across the street from their factory, and the best driver in the world that was willing to turn lap after lap after lap without complaint.

Slappy Schumacher ran over 81000km in his F1 races.  He would have done AT LEAST that amount in testing as well.

Anyway, clearly not every team could do that, and realistically Ferrari could only do it because they were the most popular race team in the world and had merchandising sales that could subsidize such stuff.

So the FIA chopped the amount of testing that could be done in-season, then did away with it altogether.  They also limited the amount of pre-season testing, then had all the teams do it at the same circuit at the same time.

Given their choice, the teams would run as much as they could.  It's not uncommon for there to be complaints about testing, in fact.

In this particular case, however, I agree with the FIA's decision to limit testing.  As is normal for the FIA, they've gone too far in their limiting, but balancing the testing playing field is a valid idea.

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 13, 2017 09:11 PM (UDOXQ)

9 Understood, thanks 'duck.  As you say though, they're gone too far in their limiting, so hopefully this is an issue new management looks at and maybe loosens up a bit.  Well, obviously, they'll have bigger fish to fry initially, but eventually.

Posted by: Tom at February 14, 2017 07:11 PM (mSIXR)

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