Manor Marussia: Energy firm boss is behind team rescue

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Max Chilton of Marussia
Marussia last raced at the Russian Grand Prix in October

The main investor behind the revival of the Manor Marussia team is Stephen Fitzpatrick, boss of energy firm Ovo.

Fitzpatrick, 37, has rescued the team that went into administration in October and missed the final three races of last season.

He secured the deal with his personal finance. It is separate from Ovo, where he is founder and chief executive.

Manor Marussia are battling to be ready for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on 15 March.

The former boss of Sainsbury's supermarkets, Justin King, will also be involved in the running of the team but is not an investor.

Manor Marussia have named Englishman Will Stevens as one of their drivers and are expected to announce a second in the coming days.

Sources say Fitzpatrick has had a long-time passion for F1 and desire to get involved.

He had originally been looking at a venture in Formula E, the new all-electric series that is racing in city centres around the world.

Stephen Fitzpatrick of OvoEnergy
Born in Northern Ireland, Stephen Fitzpatrick launched his first company in 2001

But when Marussia went into administration in October he saw an opportunity to become involved in F1. The deal has come together in the intervening four months.

Fitzpatrick has arranged deals with Marussia's two biggest creditors, Ferrari and McLaren, to ensure their continued support.

Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said last week that the team had agreed to supply Manor Marussia with 2014 engines for the forthcoming season.

The team, who raced as Marussia last year and made their debut as Virgin Racing in 2010, have to modify last year's car to meet new safety regulations before they can race this season.

That is a major job that requires the lowering of the front of the chassis above the driver's feet by 5cm and the design and build of a new nose section, which also needs to pass a crash test.

Manor only became aware of the need to do this after the Force India team vetoed their plan to run the basic 2014 car from the start of the season.

However, insiders say that the modified car is now complete and that the only remaining hurdle is for it to pass its mandatory crash test, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

The official freight leaves for Melbourne at the end of next week.

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