John Booth has less than 48 hours to save his Formula 1 team.
The 60-year-old from Rotherham is in advanced talks to save Manor Grand Prix, who under the sponsors’ name of Marussia went to the wall three races before the end of last season.
That seemingly brought an end to nearly five years of Formula 1 for the team developed from Booth’s single-seater operation based in a two-storey unit on an industrial estate in Dinnington, Rotherham, in 2010.
Marussia went into administration amid debts of £60m, but any new major backer would also acquire $40m (£26m) in prize money, earned through the team’s 10th-place finish in the 2014 constructors’ championship.
More than 190 laid-off employees are waiting on the outcome of takeover talks, but team principal Booth and senior team figures have until tomorrow to finalise a deal.
An auction into Marussia’s remaining assets was yesterday cancelled due to the advanced talks with a potential buyer.
Birmingham-based GA European Valuations (GAEV) conducted one auction in mid-December when minor items such as steering wheels, manufacturing and office equipment and drivers’ race suits were sold.
That followed the team falling into administration in October. However, work has been ongoing behind the scenes in an attempt to get the team on the grid for this season, albeit with tomorrow’s deadline fast approaching.
That is when GAEV was scheduled to sell off last season’s race cars, along with all components, spares and race-day equipment, along with the team’s cars that took part in the GP3 series.
That would have signalled the end of the team – provisionally listed under their old name of Manor on the FIA’s entry list for 2015 – as a going concern.
GAEV have now confirmed the auction is no longer to take place, with no new date rescheduled, and with a spokesperson refusing to confirm a reason as to why the auction has been cancelled.
A statement from administrators FRP Advisory read: “A planned auction of the company’s remaining assets due to commence on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, has been halted to allow for discussions to continue with a third party.
“Given the confidential nature of the negotiations underway we are unable to provide further details.”
Booth confirmed to The Yorkshire Post in early January that talks were ongoing to save the team, who have been based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, since December 2011.